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Subject: Digital collections

Digital collections

From: Julie Carlson <jcarlson<-a>
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2005
Northeast Document Conservation Center study reveals need for
planning to sustain digital collections

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (Nedcc) is conducting a
study of the preservation needs of digital assets in museums and
other cultural institutions, supported by a National Museum
Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
(IMLS). Cooperating partners for this project are the Museum
Computer Network (MCN), Heritage Preservation (HP), the American
Institute for Conservation (AIC), and the Center for Research
Libraries (CRL).

The goal is to develop a methodology for surveying the preservation
needs of an institution's digital holdings.

As an initial step, the project advisory committee developed a
prototype e-mail questionnaire to gather data on the status of
digital collections from a sampling of cultural heritage
institutions. The data suggested that institutions need to be more
concerned about the fragility of digital assets:

    *   92% of the institutions responding noted that they are
        creating digital materials

    *   Only 29% of responding institutions reported that they have
        written policies to address the management or preservation
        of digital assets.

NEDCC convened a colloquium of experts in Boston on July 11-12, 2005
to examine data from the questionnaire responses and preliminary
information. The event began with presentations of existing survey
models, especially the Conservation Assessment Program and the
Heritage Health Index. Participants engaged in moderated discussion
on digital preservation needs and possible solutions.

Participants in the colloquium were:

    Steve Chapman, Harvard University
    Tom Clareson, OCLC
    Paul Conway, Duke University
    Steve Dalton, Boston College
    Kevin Glick, Yale University
    David Green, Knowledge Culture
    Ken Hamma, J. Paul Getty Trust
    Peter Hirtle, Cornell University
    Kristen Laise, Heritage Preservation
    Paul Messier, Conservator
    Sam Quigley, Harvard University, MCN
    Bernard Reilly, CRL
    Rebecca Hatcher, NEDCC
    Ann Russell, NEDCC

The major conclusion was that small and medium-sized institutions
will need help from specialists in surveying the preservation needs
of their growing digital collections. The group took significant
first steps toward developing practical planning tools for assessing
the preservation needs of digital collections and envisioning a
national survey program.

The next steps of the project include refining a new assessment
instrument and testing it through expert-conducted site visits to
gather information on an institution's digital assets. Information
will be released as it is available.

For more information on NEDCC's programs and services see
<URL:> or call 978-470-1010

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:17
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 6, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-19-17-007
Received on Thursday, 29 September, 2005

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