Digital Preservation in a Box: NDSA Outreach

“Bob, can you give a presentation to thirty 8th graders on digital preservation.”

“Sure. When’s the presentation?”

“At 3:00 o’clock today.”


If your organization is like most, this scenario happens more regularly than you’d like. Fear not! The National Digital Stewardship Alliance Outreach Working Group set out to provide some solutions during its workshop at the 2011 NDSA/NDIIPP Partners meeting.

Carol Minton Morris from Duraspace at the Digital Preservation in a Box workshop

Carol Minton Morris from Duraspace at the Digital Preservation in a Box workshop. Photo credit: Barry Wheeler

For several months the group has been working on what it calls “Digital Preservation in a Box.” The box provides a gentle introduction to the concepts of preserving digital information through a suite of resources that are readily accessible to anyone planning an outreach event, presentation, or preparing curriculum to teach introductory digital preservation concepts.

The resources, which include slides, videos, posters and handouts, are harvested from throughout the digital preservation universe and are presented modularly so that users can pull out only what they need or want. At the same time, a complete package of resources and documentation might be downloadable in the same way you might acquire an open-source software tool (like these for example).

Several assumptions have guided the box activity:

1. That there is a core set of resources the NDSA Outreach group can compile and curate that will provide benefits and ease-of-use to the rest of the digital preservation community;

2. That the resources can be presented in an innovative way that adds to their utility;

3. That the digital preservation community will work together to update the box as more useful resources come available.

Examples of the types of resources in the box include:

“Keeping Personal Digital Audio” (PDF),  single page printable handout that discusses the Personal Archiving lifecycle for Digital Audio.

Tips on backing up social media, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Computer backup tips.

The Digital Preservation Management Tutorial.

And more!

The workshop was an opportunity to revisit the draft version of the box compiled in advance on the NDSA workspace and explore concepts that still need to be fleshed-out.

The participants broke out into several smaller groups. Some were adding resources to those already existing, using their knowledge of available materials to fill in gaps. Others were reviewing the overall structure of the box, suggesting broad areas of coverage that were missing or underrepresented. Still others were reviewing ways in which the box materials could provide input to curriculum development for the Library and Information Science community. Each of these groups was highly productive, and their observations and suggestions have moved the box further towards public release.

An unresolved question for the group is finalizing a structure (or structures) for the box materials and determining where the finished versions will be housed. One possible location is the Digital Curation Exchange website. Any other ideas?

The workshop was the first time that many of the Outreach Working Group members had met face-to-face, and it was an excellent opportunity to brainstorm on other outreach activities, including ways for the Outreach Group to work with the other NDSA Working Groups to develop effective digital preservation stories in addition to the box resources.

What do you think of the box idea? Are you dying to let the world know that digital preservation is a serious issue that needs attention? Do you have innovative ideas on how to do effective digital preservation outreach? Want to help make the box a reality? We want to hear from you! And even better, we welcome your participation in the NDSA to explore these issues in even greater detail.


  1. Walker
    August 5, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Certainly I think such a box is a great idea. One topic I can foresee as a suitable workshop or lesson subject is bit fixity. That module may introduce the idea of digests or hashes, show some tools to run them, validate them, etc. Might even employ LoC’s own BagIt and Bagger as demos.

    The subject of fixity could introduce basic record concepts like auditing, unique identifiers, etc. It’s especially applicable since the format or type of digital content is immaterial.

  2. Butch Lazorchak
    August 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

    A great point! As a reference, here are the high-level subject areas in the current box draft. Any thoughts welcome!

    *How to Use the Resources in this Box
    *Digital Preservation 101 (What is digital preservation and why is it important?)
    *Brief Introduction to Digitization
    *Preservation By Format
    *Digital Storage/Cloud Computing/Personal backup options
    *Resources for Educators
    *Marketing, Outreach and Event Guidance (Bookmarks, flyers and other promotional materials)
    *Contact list/ones to watch/Bibliography
    *Digital Preservation Tools

  3. Susan D’Entremont
    August 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I have no great advice since I am a novice myself, but this is an excellent idea! I often have the explain these concepts to the small libraries and historical societies I work with, but I am just a step or two ahead of them in understanding. I have found it difficult to find resources that are accurate yet simple. This “box” would not only help my constituents but make sure that I am up-to-date, even though I may never know all the technical details or lingo.

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