Two points must be addressed up front regarding the purpose of the Guidelines.
First, the authors understand that typically, this type of documentation begins with selection, acquisition, and/or creation. The Guidelines do not, because they are intended for curators who already have collections that need preservation attention. We want to encourage institutions to dive in and begin actively pursuing preservation today with existing, at-risk content. We do not, however, ignore selection, acquisition, and/or creation as critical components of lifecycle management. We address them at the end, rather than the beginning, of the Guidelines. There, we provide brief recommendations for concrete steps that newspaper stewards may take to integrate and incorporate preservation readiness as they continue to create and acquire digital newspapers. We point outward to other, deeper resources regarding the field’s current practices in each area—in particular, the mature digitization standards and specifications for newspapers (see Section 7, “Additional Considerations: Creation & Acquisition”).
We also highlight a key acquisition/creation pathway that is still emerging—that of born-digital newspaper collection capture and management. We describe some of the steps we believe memory organizations should be taking to ensure the survival of this content and point to future research that groups such CRL, NDSA, and Educopia are undertaking in this area.
Secondly, the Guidelines focus primarily on preservation, not access. The Guidelines intentionally separate these two functions, though its authors acknowledge the deep connections between them. What we preserve, we always should preserve so that it may be used someday by someone. With that emphasis established, the Guidelines aim first to break “preservation” down into a manageable set of modular preservation readiness activities. Given adequate resources, an institution could use these in a sequential fashion to produce a preservation program. In that way the Guidelines can be engaged as a roadmap to structure an institution’s digital newspaper curation activities from day one through to final packaging for long-term preservation (in OAIS terms, the creation of a Submission Information Package). In fact a Roadmap Checklist is included with the Guidelines for just such approaches.
From top-to-bottom the Guidelines address the following preservation readiness activities:
- Inventorying Digital Newspapers for Preservation
- Format Management for Digital Newspapers
- Metadata Packaging for Digital Newspapers
- Checksum Management for Digital Newspapers
- Organizing Digital Newspapers for Preservation
- Packaging Digital Newspapers for Preservation
However, the Guidelines are also written with the full understanding that comprehensive and sweeping actions are often beyond the capacity of institutions that curate digital newspaper content. For that reason, each spotlighted preservation readiness activity is given its own section or module. Each module explains a core facet of digital preservation, unpacks its rationale, demonstrates how it can be applied to newspapers, and provides an overview of tools and methodologies.
In addition, because digital newspapers span both digitized and born-digital forms, the Guidelines attempt to call attention to how each of the preservation readiness activities may need to be tailored to address the unique needs of each form. Foregrounded throughout each section is the broader set of “managed activities” that define digital preservation.
Where possible we have included case studies and examples to demonstrate how a real institution has engaged a particular readiness activity. These case studies celebrate successes, but also highlight challenges and share insights into decision-making around a preservation readiness activity given the institution’s available (and often limited) resources.
Finally, and most importantly, each preservation readiness section includes a sub-section that situates the activity in the context of the suggested spectrum of essential and optimal practices. This sub-section will help institutions understand where they land on this spectrum, and advise how best to proceed with the recommended practices, tools, and methodologies. It is important for curators and collection managers to share some of the more technical elements that are discussed in the Guidelines with their technical staff members and consultants, who may help to expand upon some of the tools and implementations that are suggested herein.
The Guidelines then conclude with the aforementioned Roadmap Checklist and a brief section on Additional Considerations that cover the following topics:
- Creation & Acquisition of Digital Newspapers
- Permissions to Preserve & Preservation Partners
- Distributed Digital Preservation vs. Backups
- Change Management for Preserved Newspapers
- Monitoring Digital Newspapers Under Preservation
- Recovering Digital Newspapers Under Preservation