Archival Preservation

The University of Iowa Libraries is committed to long-term preservation and access for the digital collections it creates and acquires. UI Libraries has a team of skilled professionals, including a digital processing librarian, digital preservation librarian, a digital reformatting librarian, a digital projects librarian, and multiple IT/web positions who are actively researching options for a flexible and sustainable infrastructure – human, technical, and organizational – and are establishing the requisite policies and workflows needed to support current and future use of its digital collections.

Following best practices and workflows ~200TB uncompressed, archival master files have been stored in stable, off-site networked storage operated by the University of Iowa Information Technology Service (ITS). Data on these servers are automatically replicated to a geographically disparate “like-system” in a separated data center. Changes are made asynchronously allowing for 30-day snapshots in which improperly deleted data can still be retrieved. In the current system, it is possible to scale storage up to 250TB. Access to each archive is highly restrictive and uses are logged and audited. Block-level fixity is built into the storage system. Ingest of new content into digital storage and regular monitoring of these redundant digital storage instances is managed by the Digital Preservation Librarian. Currently, the University of Iowa Libraries is compliant with at least Level One of each category of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Levels of Preservation.

The UI Libraries is the beginning stages of embarking on a more formal, rigorous digital preservation planning process that will involve both librarians and staff from within the UI Libraries and other stakeholders from across the University community using a digital repository. This planning process will define the technical, metadata, and workflow requirements for a digital preservation system and will include a thorough examination of the various software and hardware options for long-term preservation and management of the UI Libraries digital collections. The result of this process will be a digital preservation roadmap that will be rolled out over the course of several years, with regular review, revision, and recalibration as needed to address inevitable technological and organizational changes.

The UI Libraries has had a subscription to web archiving tool Archive-It since 2006. Collections have been created and maintained for: University Archives, Special Collections, The Iowa Women’s Archive, the 2008 Flood, the International Writing Program, UIOWA Journals and Newsletters, the State of Iowa Government, and Digital Projects created by the libraries. Archive-It provides end-to-end collecting, access, and preservation services. They provide a minimum of 2 copies of all ISO standard WARC files with geographic redundancy, fixity checking and repair, and APIs for metadata and search.

The UI Libraries works closely with its peer institutions in the Big Ten Academic Alliance and is a leader in the BTAA Digital Preservation Group. This project contains text files and PDFS in Amazon S3, python scripts, and documentation in GitHub, as well as raw data in the University of Iowa’s research cluster Argon. Although these tools offer varying degrees of preservation the data from this project can also be backed up in the environment described above. This project will also publish information through a website which will be archived using the Libraries Archive-It tool. In general, the new content being created through this grant will be added to the digital collection and preserved in the manner described above as a part of an ongoing digital accessioning workflow.