What is “Digital Preservation”?

It is important to understand at the outset what we mean when we use the term “digital preservation.” Digital preservation is widely understood as the “series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary.” An operative term in this definition is “managed activities.” Institutions seeking to preserve digital materials must understand that preservation requires planning, care, and coordination over time. The definition does not seek to quantify the purpose, scope, or duration of preservation—only “for as long as necessary.” Which is to say, institutions usually do not have a mandate to preserve everything forever. Digital preservation is instead an ongoing process that can be undertaken pragmatically and incrementally.

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