The Preservation of Digital Content

The authors are conducting a three-part study to evaluate current trends in the preservation of digital content, with an emphasis on electronic records. The study emanated from the authors' work on the Preservation Task Force of the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) project. This article incorporates the findings of both the survey and individual key-informant interviews that we conducted from August 2001 through February 2003, as round 2 of the study. Round 2 builds on the 2000-2001 round 1 survey that sought to identify and describe strategies for preserving electronic records. In this second round the authors found that progress has been made in some areas while it is still lags in others.1 The full study consists of three phases: round 1 identified and surveyed 13 institutions, projects, and programs in North America, Australia, and Europe. Round 2 surveyed eight of the 13 institutions again to follow up on their progress. Additionally, we interviewed 18 key informants, including archivists and librarians. In round 3 the authors will each conduct one case study drawn from the survey participants in rounds 1 and 2. By the end of the three rounds, the authors will have studied a continuum of activities (over a six-year period) that constitutes a range of digital preservation strategies. The study will have charted the change in technological developments over this period—developments that have occurred in our survey institutions to meet the requirements of their mandates to preserve digital content for as long as needed.