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We are inundated by information and data every day and creating more information than ever before in all aspects of our lives. However, how much of the information created today is actually being preserved for future use? How, as information professionals can we ensure the longevity of digital information and records that are the life blood and the building blocks of our organisations and businesses?

As Information and Records Managers we understand:

  • That many records need to be retained long term.
  • That education and communication with users, stakeholders and other information professionals from different disciplinary backgrounds is invaluable to establishing an information culture.
  • The need to engage with IT and other information areas to make use of existing expertise and knowledge within an organisation.
  • The importance of metadata to ensure access to authentic records and information and that these can be understood in the future.
  • The risks to the organisation if valuable information is lost due to technological obsolescence and media degradation.
  • The need for standard file formats,
  • The need for standards to ensure that the data and information identified for preservation can be transferred to trusted digital repositories.
  • The importance of planning and developing strategies supported by sound policy.

Digital preservation is a complex area and it is often underestimated or even overlooked. It is often challenging convincing senior management that preservation of digital assets is an important initiative.  So how do we go about or even start thinking about the digital records that we need to preserve in perpetuity for our organisations?  How do we convince IT that the backup systems they have in place are not sustainable in ensuring that important records are accessible into the future; that digitisation of physical records is not preservation, much more is needed to ensure that digitised items can be accessed in the years to come.  What are the critical things we should be considering and planning for so we can avoid the loss of valuable information?  What tools are available to us to assist? Where do we go for advice?

We can look to the research data management and cultural heritage world for a wealth of guidance, advice and tools on digital preservation that can be applied to corporate records and information. The Digital Preservation Coalition provides an online handbook that provides good practice in creating, managing and preserving digital materials and provides a range of practical tools to assist.

Another useful tool is the Community Owned Digital Preservation Tool Registry (COPTR).  This site provides a registry of tools to assist practitioners find the right tool for the digital preservation job.  This site also provides an interactive grid to assist with navigating the large number of tools in the registry.

Figure 1: Interactive grid – COPTR

To protect valuable information assets organisations must be planning for digital preservation and engaging with all areas of the business receiving and producing records and information.

Recordkeeping Innovation is company with extensive experience in the information management field. Our team of consultants are experts and have a wealth of experience in development and implementation of information management frameworks, policy and strategy development, digital preservation policy, strategies and planning and development of metadata schemas.  The team at Recordkeeping Innovation can assist in you in planning for digital preservation.  Learn more at http://www.records.com.au/

About the Author

Adelle Ford has worked in the information and records management sector since 1979, having been employed in various capacities by both public and private sector organisations. Adelle has developed records management policies, strategic plans and operational procedures for large scale organisations operating in legislatively complex business environments. Adelle has experience in and a sound knowledge of a range of information management systems and has developed information governance frameworks and information inventories.  Adelle has taught records management courses through Sydney Institute (TAFE) and continues to conduct system and records management training for clients.  Adelle is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Data Management