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Digital Preservation in a Box – Have a Look Inside!

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The latest project from the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, Outreach Working Group, has now reached a milestone with the public unveiling of a new resource, “Digital Preservation in a Box.”

The key to digital preservation (image courtesy of

Don’t let the “Box” term fool you – in keeping with the digital preservation nature of things, this “Box” is a virtual one.  That is, it’s essentially an online collection of resources for the learning and teaching of digital preservation – collected, organized and accessible through one place.

One of my colleagues here at the Library, Butch Lazorchak, is co-chair of the Outreach Working Group, and he wrote an earlier blog post explaining the basics and history of the project. “Digital preservation is a complex subject but it can be explained if you’ve got the right materials to help,” said Lazorchak recently.  “Digital Preservation in a Box provides those communication tools in an easy-to-use interface geared towards information professionals and educators. It provides a set of resources to support introductory-level education for those who may have little to no knowledge of digital preservation – this should help them with their own digital information or in teaching others how to do it.”

In addition to potential uses by professional librarians, another distinct use has emerged – for a library school curriculum. Jane Zhang, an Assistant Professor at the School of Library & Information Science at the Catholic University of America, and very active in the NDSA, was instrumental in identifying resources to include in the “Box”.  In addition, Professor Zhang utilized the draft version of the Box directly in her recent course on Digital Curation.   As part of the course, her students reviewed the contents of the Box, suggesting additional uses and resources.  They were then able to use this resource in a digital preservation workshop they held for fellow students. One of the students in the class, Kevin Marcou, gave an enthusiastic overview of this process in a recent Signal blog post.

Another advantage of using the Box for a class project was that it served as a catalyst for active engagement and promoting digital preservation within the student community.  Now that they have this experience under their belts, they will no doubt carry this forward as they pursue their careers in the wider library world.

So, what’s actually included in this “Digital Preservation in a Box”?  Here’s a basic rundown:

  • Digital Preservation 101 – introductory materials, including videos, articles, and tutorials explaining the concepts involved in digital preservation
  • Glossary – collection of glossaries from various institutions and programs, containing explanations of relevant terms
  • Preservation by Format – where to find information for specific digital formats including photographs, audio, video, email, etc.
  • Digital Preservation Tools – basic tools listed for either “consumer” or “information professional”
  • Digital Storage – some options geared towards personal archiving or the basic knowledge needed to understand preservation storage technology.
  • Resources for Educators – curriculum guidance and teaching materials
  • Marketing and Outreach – links to marketing materials that can be adapted to support specific events.
  • Event Guidance – what you need to know to prepare a digital preservation event at your institution
  • Brief Introduction to Digitization – all about scanning, and making the distinction between digital preservation and digitization

While the Box itself is a product of the full NDSA working group, Butch Lazorchak and I teamed up with Jane Zhang and Dever Powell (National Library of Medicine) to produce a poster on the Box project, which was presented at the recent Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.  I was glad to see some good interest in the project from the attendees who stopped by to talk about it at the poster session.  Most people identified with it as a potential educational resource, not just for library schools, but as a one-stop place for working librarians who may not have previous experience with digital preservation.

Our Digital Preservation in a Box, in a poster!

This is just the beginning for the Box – it will be regularly updated whenever we find new resources to add. And that’s where our readers come in – what else would you like to see included right now, either to help you in your career, or to help your students?  What about any other potential uses you can think of?

We want to hear your ideas, so let us know via the comment area below, or the email address included on the Box site. The more we know what people need, the better we can tailor the contents to reflect that.

And if any of our readers are planning to attend our upcoming meeting, Digital Preservation 2012, we will be presenting our poster there as well, so please stop by and visit during the poster session on July 24th. We’d love to hear what you think, and about any potential uses you may have for this resource.


Comments (4)

  1. One of the most frustrating aspects of open-source digital preservation tools is how often you find a perfect tool abandoned, probably because the grant ran out or the developer lost interest. It would be very helpful as you build your list to include last-updated lists or to cull abandoned projects.

  2. Nick,
    This is a great point about keeping the resources current and up to date. We will be reviewing these periodically to do just that. And please feel free to send us suggestions on anything to add or replace.

  3. The “Digital Preservation in a Box” link is not working. Is the tool being revised? When will it be reinstated?

    • Laurie,
      The site is down, but we are attempting a fix to get it up and running later today or tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience, but good to know this tool is being used!

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