Digital Preservation survey in need of museum input!

I just received an e-mail from Karim Boughida, who expressed dismay that the Getty Research Institute is not receiving more museum responses to the International Digital Preservation Systems Survey. While they have gathered an impressive 144 responses so far, only 2 have come from museums! If you are a museum, and have a system which you rely on for digital preservation, I’d urge you to contribute to this survey. Karim and his team will widely publicize the findings, which will benefit the entire community.
I personally suspect that most museums who are investing in stewardship of digital assets currently work on digital asset management (also see the recent RLG DigiNews special issue on the topic), which arguably has a different focus from long-term retention / digital preservation. I recently wrote an article for an AAM book publication tentatively titled “Museums in the Digital Age” on this very issue (edited by Herminia Din and Phyllis Hecht, to be published Fall 2007), and if I may have the vanity to pre-print quote myself:

Since commercial DAMS systems are created with the intent to manage present-day digital files for use rather than for posterity, a conservative view of their capability to preserve digital files according to established standards seems prudent. Rather than a silver bullet solution, the DAMS could be seen as a museum’s first major point of engagement with the thorny issues of digital preservation. Beyond all other obvious benefits to museum operations, implementing a DAMS is a first step towards better stewardship of digital assets, which may develop into a full-blown institutional digital preservation strategy down the line.

I’d be particularly interested in museum responses from DAMS implementers – the survey could be one way to gage how far down the path of digital preservation their work on asset management has taken them.

Maybe the good folks over at Musematic could also make a call for museum input?

2 Comments on “Digital Preservation survey in need of museum input!”

  1. Mal,

    Sorry the survey didn’t allow enough options to make it easy for you to enter your information – unfortunately it’s in the nature of these pre-fabricated surveys that they don’t work perfectly for everyone. However, we really appreciate you’re taking the time to fill it in, and we hope more museum folks will do so. We hope the many free text “comment” fields will in part compensate for any failings in the survey itself.


  2. Günter,
    We responded to the survey (I hope they got it), but found that the survey did not really allow for enough options with regard to where we were at in this area (digital preservation). As I said in the survey, we’ve recently been through a large tender process to finally begin implementation of a museum-wide ECM that will include a DAMS, workflow, Federated Search, a web CMS and an EDRMS. All of this is to be integrated and will operate as elements of a single system. It will be a phased implementation and we are to begin working that out next month.
    Currently, we operate with a lot of digital collection material for both preservation purposes and web access – images, documents, sound and soon some video. So, we have an in-house developed digital object management system and our digital preservation processes largely require manual intervention.
    What we’ve found is that there are no comprehensive off-the-shelf digital preservation systems that could deliver everything we wanted (from a collections perspective) in terms of automated and trusted digital preservation processes within a repository or DAMS. That will still require some technical tweaking and probably some add-ons and for a while, some manual intervation or checks and tests. Our partner is keen to work with us to meet these needs, but it isn’t as simple as many people expect it to be.

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