The following is part of a series featuring the work of our National Digital Stewardship Alliance partners.
“A place for everything, everything in its place, and seven secure copies”, so says the “digital” Ben Franklin, as he’s quoted at the top of the MetaArchive project page. He would of course, be very happy with the present day digital preservation effort. And why wouldn’t he? After many years of partnership projects the advantages of working in collaboration have become clear. Take the MetaArchive project – starting with 6 libraries in 2002, MetaArchive now supports 48 institutions with its shared digital preservation repository and resources.
But now that this project has become a successful and sustainable program, the challenge now is; how can libraries leverage a similar cooperative framework as a model for other projects? Enter Educopia , a non profit organization whose mission it is to foster such institutional relationships and help them succeed in their digital lifecycle curation efforts. Educopia is the sponsoring organization for MetaArchive and other partnerships, providing overall support, advice and resources.
Educopia is one of the original members of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance. Begun in 2010, the NDSA is a collaborative effort among many organizations to share resources towards preserving a distributed national digital collection.
According to Educopia’s Executive Director Katherine Skinner, these partnerships are driven by relationships. She says the NDSA partnership program “is helping to create a crucial community of memory organizations, and ultimately, is becoming a real influence in how the field of digital preservation develops.”
In person, Katherine’s high energy, drive and enthusiasm are obvious – and serve to further emphasize the importance she places on this effort, not just from an institutional perspective, but for the field as a whole. I asked Katherine to tell us a little bit about her organization and the NDSA:
Why did your organization join the NDSA?
“Here at Educopia Institute, we believe that digital preservation is a defining component of the cultural memory field (and increasingly, the cultural memory marketplace), and we’re convinced that only through working together as a community can we meet the digital preservation challenges of the 21st century. The NDSA gives us some “glue” that can hold this community together as we tackle huge issues, ones that none of our individual organizations, from libraries to research centers to commercial groups, can contend with alone.”
How do you see the MetaArchive project continuing with the NDSA?
“Both Educopia (MetaArchive’s parent organization and the actual NDSA member) and the MetaArchive membership will continue to participate in the NDSA wherever we can be of most use. Currently, one of our members (Tyler Walters, Dean of Virginia Tech), contributes to the coordinating committee, and we’re volunteering time and energy on each of the other subgroups as well. We deeply appreciate having a base within which we and others may engage in this community-driven work.”
And when asked about the longer term future of the partnership, Katherine says she is “looking forward to the tipping point. That is, the point when this kind of collaboration is no longer unique, but common practice.”
Why do you think digital preservation is important, in general?
“The success of community-led approaches to digital preservation relies on the health of the whole community of practice. We believe that collaborative approaches provide the strongest model for library-owned-and-operated digital preservation services—something the field needs in order to ensure that third-party service providers keep their own service options fair (both in terms of pricing and design) and that libraries do not lose or cede their curatorial control over this core part of their institutional missions.”