OCLC Research 2010: Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Preservation and Access

2010 marked the conclusion of work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access. Formed in 2007, the Task Force was an international group convened to examine the issue of economic sustainability in a digital preservation context. Membership included experts from across the digital preservation community, including the public sector, the private sector, cultural heritage, and academia, and reflected a range of expertise, including librarians, archivists, computer scientists, and economists.

The Task Force produced two substantial reports which, provide:

  • the first comprehensive study of the economics of digital preservation;
  • a clear definition of the conditions that must be met to achieve economic sustainability in a digital preservation context;
  • practical, actionable recommendations for achieving economic sustainability, based on detailed analysis of both the economic environment in which preservation decision-making takes place, and the attributes of digital preservation as an economic activity;
  • a list of priorities for near-term action;
  • a strong foundation to catalyze additional work on economically sustainable digital preservation.

In addition to publishing their final report this year, the Task Force organized a symposium in Washington, DC, with approximately 100 participants. The April symposium provided the community with a public forum to react to and discuss the Task Force’s findings and recommendations; to assemble panels of experts representing the four digital preservation contexts discussed in the report, and hear their thoughts on how the Task Force’s recommendations might be implemented; and to inspire ideas for future work, building on the foundation provided by the Task Force. A similar event was sponsored by JISC in London in May. Both events helped embed the Task Force’s work into the international digital preservation community. Additionally, the work of the Task Force was recognized by being included on the short list for the 2010 Digital Preservation Award.

Brian Lavoie is a Research Scientist in OCLC Research. He has worked on projects in many areas, such as digital preservation, cooperative print management, and data-mining of bibliographic resources. He was a co-founder of the working group that developed the PREMIS Data Dictionary for preservation metadata, and served as co-chair of a US National Science Foundation blue-ribbon task force on economically sustainable digital preservation. Brian’s academic background is in economics; he has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics. Brian’s current research interests include stewardship of the evolving scholarly record, analysis of collective collections, and the system-wide organization of library resources.