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Talking about Storage Solutions for the “Lone Arrangers”

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The following is a guest post from Thomas Padilla, Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Program Assistant in the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives.

We at the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program hear from working professionals across the country that digital preservation can be difficult to implement, let alone maintain, given squeezed budgets and limited staff time. For smaller institutions staffed by a “lone arranger”, the responsibility of preserving digital content can be even more challenging.  For example, how can a lone arranger store their files if they don’t have the resources to implement something like LOCKSS in their preservation strategy?

Historical documents guarded with great care by National Archives. Washington, D.C., Nov. 22. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Historical documents guarded with great care by National Archives. Washington, D.C., Nov. 22. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

A similar question came up during a recent digital preservation training event held by DPOE Trainer Jody DeRidder. One participant asked, “What can tiny institutions do for storage and multiple copies if LOCKSS is too far beyond their capabilities?” We thought that it would be interesting to post the question to the DPOE listserv. This growing community represents a vibrant cross-section of individuals working in small and large organizations in the public, private, and academic sector. The historical societies, universities, public libraries, state government agencies and other types of organizations that comprise community membership share in common a need to preserve digital content.  Their responses to the question are instructive.

One member suggested three approaches to geographically distributed storage of digital content. The first approach entailed utilization of a popular online file storage service that allows users to easily share files. With this model, files are stored by the service provider and, if the user chooses, on local hard drives as well. The second approach entailed making copies of content to hard drives and physically mailing these hard drives to partners in other areas for safekeeping. The third approach involved storing content with web hosting services with the caveat that it is essential to read the fine print as these services usually guarantee neither the security nor the safety of hosted files.

A last approach came from a member working in a university library, admittedly outside the scope of the tiny institution, but instructive for the theme that the solution represents – benefits to be had from collaboration. The member detailed their effort to partner with various library service units and pool resources to establish an institutional repository.

Based on the lively conversation inspired by this topic, DPOE will initiate monthly discussions on digital preservation topics on its listserv. If you have not done so already we encourage you to join the listserv and participate in the community. We all have something that we can learn from one another.

If you face a similar challenge storing digital content, we would love to hear about your approach to meeting it in the comments below!

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