The Project

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February 2008.

Funding has been generously provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Auburn University, Spring Hill College, Troy University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of North Alabama. The Alabama Commission on Higher Education through its Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL), a partnership of all the state’s public and non-profit private four-year colleges and universities, will implement a two-year research project to develop a state-based, distributed, low-cost model for the long-term archival preservation of locally-created digital resources.

The long-term preservation of digital assets is an essential part of digital collection building. However, in their eagerness to make content publicly available online, some digital project planners are failing to develop and implement preservation strategies. Along the Gulf Coast, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita constituted one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history. Throughout the years, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires have destroyed libraries and ruined collections throughout the Alabama. But the aftermath of Katrina, unlike damage in earlier years, galvanized public calls for strategies to prevent such chaos after future disasters.

The library and archival professions agree that digital preservation is critical and that no single strategy is appropriate for all types of repositories or all types of data. Repositories risk losing content primarily through two ways: physical damage and/or obsolescence of hardware and software. This project proposes a LOCKSS long-term storage network as an effective solution to prevent loss of digital assets through physical damage from natural events, human intervention or error, or just the ravages of time. It addresses a pressing need for Alabama repositories to ameliorate the risk of physical damage while planning to manage obsolescence threats.

As more content becomes available in digital formats, Alabama residents will expect organizations to recover quickly in the event of another disaster. The Alabama Digital Preservation Project will:

  1. Highlight the importance of preserving significant digital assets to the academic community, state agencies, and other cultural heritage institutions in Alabama.
  2. Develop a state-based, distributed, low-cost model to manage the preservation of digital assets by establishing a LOCKSS network for the long-term archival storage of digital assets created by all types of repositories in Alabama.
  3. Create an administrative structure to manage the storage network and assure its long-term sustainability. By the end of the project, the storage repository participants will have established an on-going management structure for the repository, adopted policies and procedures, and adopted a sustainability plan.
  4. Demonstrate that a long-term storage repository for digital assets can support repositories of different types and sizes as well as different kinds of institutions.

By the end of the two-year project, Alabama academic institutions and state agencies, as well as other cultural heritage institutions will have an increased awareness of the importance of preserving significant digital assets. These organizations will be participating in the Alabama Digital Preservation Network to assure the long-term archival storage of their digital assets. The project will document that a LOCKSS preservation network will operate efficiently and effectively to demonstrate that a long-term storage repository for digital assets can support the archival preservation storage needs of different types and sizes as well as different kinds of repositories. A representative organization will govern the network and assure the long-term continuation of the Alabama Digital Preservation Network.