Long-Term Digital Preservation*

By Charles M. Dollar and Lori J. Ashley

Every organization—public, private, or not for profit—now has electronic records and digital content that it wants to access and retain for periods in excess of 10 years. This may be due to regulatory or legal reasons, a desire to preserve organizational memory and history, or entirely by operational reasons. But long-term continuity of digital information does not happen by accident—it takes information governance (IG), planning, sustainable resources, and a keen awareness of the information technology (IT) and file formats in use by the organization, as well as evolving standards and computing trends.

Defining Long-Term Digital Preservation

Information is universally recognized as a key asset that is essential to organizational success. Digital information, which relies on complex computing platforms and networks, is created, received, and used daily to deliver services to citizens, consumers and customers, businesses, and government agencies. Organizations face tremendous challenges in the 21st century to manage, preserve, and provide access to electronic records for as long as they are needed.

Digital preservation is defined as long-term, error-free storage of digital information, with means for retrieval and interpretation, for the entire time span the information is required to be retained. Digital preservation applies to content that is born digital as well as content that is converted to ...

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