The Guidelines for Digital Newspaper Preservation Readiness address a specific set of preservation challenges faced by libraries, archives, historical societies, and other organizations that curate substantial collections of digital newspaper content. The digital newspaper collections managed by these memory organizations often have been established over several decades of digitization and born-digital acquisition efforts. As such, they tend to encompass a wide range of file types, structures, and metadata schemas. With limited staffing, time, and infrastructure, how can institutions prepare such diverse collections for preservation?
Consider just a few examples:
- A state historical society has hundreds of digitized newspaper pages through its participation in programs such as the United States Newspaper Program (USNP) and the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The archive has benefitted from significant federal funding to have these public domain newspapers catalogued, digitized, transcribed, and modeled according to evolving best practices in metadata, imaging, optical character recognition, and other standards and technologies. However, the archive now must maintain legacy collections that differ according to these evolving phases of digitization “best practices.” As such, it must make decisions about how to streamline these diverse collections into a set of content that can be managed over time.
- An academic research library acquires the digital back content of a local commercial news publisher, including daily articles that were published on the Web in the mid-1990s using early versions of HTML. The library aims to serve this content out to various communities over time, which necessitates attention to copyright issues, server/operating system infrastructure changes, maintaining thousands of file linkages, and ongoing questions regarding how different browsers will render this information as such technologies and their underlying standards evolve.
- A state library has started acquiring a local publisher’s print-ready files and Web content—including social media feeds. The library must work out agreements and processes for how best to acquire authoritative and complete content from the publisher on a routine basis. It also must make decisions regarding migration and normalization to ensure the longevity of the content and to facilitate its integration with the state library’s extensive digitized newspaper holdings.
Digital newspaper collections are a key historical record of human activities. Given the preservation challenges posed by this valuable and unique set of scholarly assets curators are asking the question “How can we effectively and efficiently prepare our digitized and born-digital newspaper collections for preservation?”
The Guidelines are first and foremost written to inform curators and collection managers at libraries, archives, historical societies, and other such memory organizations about various practical readiness activities that they can take, and to provide links to technical resources that they can either implement themselves or work with their technical staff to implement (for more, see “How to Use the Guidelines”).