Share your digital heritage strategy with the UNESCO-PERSIST project

Digital preservation has been hotly debated for a long time already, but the selection of digital heritage seems to be a somewhat neglected subject. We are asking heritage institutions – libraries, archives, museums, scientific institutes and other organisations that collect, preserve and make available digital content  to help us study existing strategies and to identify good practices in order to set up Selection Guidelines for Collecting Digital Heritage.

The partners of the UNESCO-PERSIST project have asked Wilbert Helmus to carry out a literature survey on the world-wide trends and developments on selection of digital heritage collections. Helmus (Helmus Advies - Cultureel Erfgoed Management is a Dutch expert in cultural heritage management who has carried out projects for The Archives Portal Europe, Picturae and various other partners in the archival and governmental sector.

The literature survey will focus on international (world-wide) literature, publications, policies, strategies, and guidelines on collecting and selecting born digital heritage collections. The documents will be analysed in order to compose an outline of the most important publications. The outcomes of this literature survey and analysis will provide the background for the UNESCO Guidelines on selecting digital heritage.

We kindly ask for your cooperation in this important project. 

We would like to ask you to:

  • Send wilbert [at] helmus-advies.nl (Wilbert Helmus) relevant best practises, publications, guidelines, papers etc. on the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation by the 2nd of February 2015 

We are interested to see:

  • How archives, libraries and museums select digital collections and information, such as digital objects, archival collections, digital documents, websites, games, etc. for long term preservation.

We are aware of the fact that most of this information is not accessible via Internet or public portals. For this reason the result of our survey is largely depending on your participation. All results will be shared with you and we will keep you informed on the outcomes of the survey and the composition of the UNESCO Guidelines on selecting digital heritage.

Background

The UNESCO-PERSIST project (Platform to Enhance the Sustainability of the Information Society Transglobally) aims to enhance the sustainability of the information society by assisting institutions to preserve and to provide access to digital heritage. To achieve this, PERSIST seeks to  secure important mechanisms of good governance and the right of access to knowledge and information. 

PERSIST has identified governments, heritage institutions, and the IT-industry as the three main stakeholders in the project. PERSIST will establish a platform to support dialogue and cooperation among the three main stakeholders, and to create practical solutions in the area of sustainable digital preservation. Additionally, academia will be an important partner in PERSIST as researchers have a supporting role in assessing the quality of the dialogue and cooperation.

Collecting and preserving born digital heritage is  a major challenge. Formulating sustainable collection policies and economic solutions to safeguard the digital output of the public and private sector requires close collaboration between governments, industries, memory institutions and other stakeholders, including creators and consumers.

In order to get one step closer to this aim, the UNESCO PERSIST project, a cooperation between UNESCO, the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), LIBER, the National Library of the Netherlands and the Digital Heritage Netherlands Foundation (DEN), is now setting out to collect and share worldwide best practices and guidelines on selecting policies and digital strategies. The Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO is responsible for the general coordination of PERSIST.

Digital information is difficult to preserve over longer periods of time. Carriers like hard disks have a short life span, and even if one manages to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hard- and software is unable to process the old data is very real. Archives, museums and libraries are acutely aware of these problems, yet they cannot find solutions on their own. The UNESCO PERSIST Project stimulates the debate between these institutions, government and the ICT-industry in order to promote digital sustainability. In its first phase PERSIST was coordinated by the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO.

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