Preservation Monitoring

Once content has been packaged for long-term preservation (see Section 6: “Packaging Digital Newspapers for Preservation”) and moved into archival storage/workflows, there are a number of package elements that need to be monitored at key intervals. For example, an audit schedule should be established to ensure regular per-file fixity and to make fixity comparisons across any replicated copies of files (see section above on “Distribution vs. Back Up”). Institutions must determine what role they will play in this ongoing monitoring of content, including whether they are willing to outsource these tasks to external groups (e.g., preservation service providers) and what reports/documentation they expect to review. There are a number of questions to consider, including the following:

  • What is the supported policy/practice for repairing a corrupted file and is this handled in a traceable and authorized manner?
  • Who has permissions to access, manage and if necessary update preservation copies of digital newspaper data in approved ways?
  • What types of network analysis, security measures, and system redundancies are in place to guard against disasters, unwarranted intrusions, and general accidents?
  • How are incidents logged and reported?

Institutions that do not have direct control over their preservation storage environments should make sure that service providers that they are partnering with provide an appropriate degree of reporting and/or assurances around these and other sorts of monitoring concerns.

The Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and the ISO 16363:2012 Audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories set forth a broad range of monitoring factors and approaches that should be in place and accounted for. However, as stressed throughout these Guidelines, these standards and metrics can be followed and implemented in measured and incremental fashions. At this admittedly early stage in the formation of the digital preservation field, all efforts to preserve digital newspapers (and any other digital content) should be pursued with the understanding that digital preservation is quickly evolving.  More than any full-blown implementation of standards, the most important task for memory institutions is to stay vigilant and avoid falling prey to the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality that can so easily come with this digital terrain. Take responsibility, maintain control, ask questions always, and demand information if need be.