Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values
Since its release at the fall 2017 Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) meeting, many people have engaged with the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values. Community input resulted in the publication of Version 2, below. Once again, the DPSC has expanded and revised the document to be more comprehensive and explicit about its purpose and motivation.
Please review and add your thoughts to the draft: Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values Version 3 Draft - Copy for Comments. The comment period will be open until the end of August 2022.
The full text of the draft can also be viewed below.
Draft: May 2022
Issued by representatives of Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), Chronopolis, CLOCKSS, LYRASIS, Educopia/MetaArchive Cooperative, Texas Digital Library (TDL)
Digital preservation combines policies, strategies, and actions that ensure access to digital content over time.1 Digital preservation is essential to the cumulative record of human activity and memory.
We are a group of collaborating organizations united in our commitment to preserve the cultural, intellectual, scientific and academic record for current and future generations. We believe that preservation should be sustainable, affordable, practical, and available to all. We believe we can accomplish these goals better together rather than separately. We provide services for the cultural heritage, research, and academic communities, and all kinds of students, teachers, and scholars.
We embrace participation from communities reflective of the full range of human experience and strive to preserve the histories, cultures, experiences and perspectives of people of different genders, races, ethnicities, spiritual choices, sexual orientation or identity, physical or mental abilities and places of origin.
The mission of our shared work is rooted in a set of core values. These core values inform and direct our collective work:
Collaboration - We work together and will collaborate with organizations that share the values set out in this statement.
- Resources for staff, services and software rarely increase. In fact, most cultural heritage institutions face budget reductions annually. Radical collaboration is necessary in order to successfully fulfill our mandates in the face of austerity measures.
- Digital preservation practice suffers from a lack of diverse perspectives, and when we collaborate, we all benefit from multiple experiences from different contexts.
- Digital preservation is resource intensive and contributes to global warming. Through collaboration, we can avoid unnecessary duplication.
- We help create and continue to adapt and refine community standards such as Levels of Digital Preservation. This collaboration helps us all identify and address shifts in a timely manner.
- Digital preservation is not a competition. As resources dwindle in cultural heritage institutions, we must actively share governance, expand collective understanding and engage with as many contributors and experts as feasible.
Affordability and Sustainability - We balance affordable services for the widest possible communities while sustaining the content we protect.
- Digital preservation requires sustained operational funding in order to ensure the longevity of preserved content. This means that digital preservation is expensive for organizations, while also involving heavy investments of labor and technological infrastructure that draws significantly on our natural resources and contributes to climate change.
- Community-based, mission-driven digital preservation service providers have a responsibility to mitigate the financial, social, and environmental costs of this resource-intensive work, and to balance organizational needs for affordability with the long-term sustainability of the technologies and service models that we elect to use.
- Affordability and sustainability are paramount in digital preservation, which is premised on the long-term consequences of our decisions and actions, and we recognize that profit-motivated actions can be in direct opposition to these values.
Inclusiveness - We strive to adopt and promote inclusive practices in the partnerships we form, the collections we preserve, and the organizations we serve.
- The historical record is dominated by those with the power and resources to have their information preserved or deemed worthy of preservation. As this historical record becomes increasingly digital, preservation services and communities need to prioritize inclusion of the voices, rights, and recordkeeping practices of those that have been historically and deliberately marginalized.
Environment Heterogeneity - We develop and deploy a variety of platforms and technologies to create a heterogeneous network that spans diverse geographic, technical, and institutional environments.
- It is good practice that digital preservation be technologically distributed across different infrastructures, software platforms, and geographies to avoid a single point of failure.
- Dominant for-profit technology monopolies have little interest in the priorities of a relatively small community of users in cultural heritage institutions. There is a risk that that lack of interest could result in loss of valuable content when we rely on one provider. Backwards compatibility is a very high priority for cultural heritage institutions, while the for-profit sector constantly pushes forward with acceptable levels of obsolescence.
Portability/Interoperability - We recognize that digital preservation involves moving data across systems and time. We design and maintain our services to maximize the integrity of the content and ease by which we transfer this content.
- Tools and standards should interoperate and connect with each other. As data to be preserved increases and platforms and tools for digital preservation evolve or sunset, being able to “speak a common language” is imperative for sustainable long term preservation.
- Making connections between and among our services is key to addressing our community’s needs. Digital preservation services should be focused on interlocking services rather than competitive philosophies.
- We are actively discussing how collaborations will allow us to focus and specialize on specific challenges of digital preservation rather than each service competing for the same market share. We see the need to develop services that can be agile and free from vendor lock-in for storage solutions or other dependencies.
- Digital preservation needs to be validated and assured by multiple methods. Developing software that interacts with various systems but still provides the end user with the required assurance is a core component of our services.
- Service providers have a responsibility to their communities to make sure their data is portable and that their distributed infrastructure can interact and interoperate.
Openness and Transparency - We favor open technologies, standards, and protocols. We share information about costs and technologies openly.
- We believe that digital preservation services that limit their public documentation or require non-disclosure agreements run counter to the core nature and needs of the digital preservation and broader cultural heritage community.
- We embrace open source software that is openly documented and adaptable to changing needs. Proprietary software relies on software documentation which is not externally verifiable and can have unknown long-term implications, and this limits its exposure to local adaptation and broader community input.
- “Free” digital preservation options may have fine print details in their documentation that substantially puts content at risk.
Accountability - We are responsible to each other and the broader community for employing ethical and transparent preservation practices.
- Our motivation for digital preservation is based on a collective understanding of enduring values across digital heritage organizations. This is in contrast to motivations based on accountability to shareholders.
- These services commit to sharing information on data loss and lessons learned so that the entire community can benefit, improve, and adapt. This is key to an active preservation philosophy.
Stewardship Continuity - We will collaborate to help identify new locations for content when one of the undersigned organization’s stewardship cannot continue.
- Digital preservation is a collective commitment we make together as digital information, heritage and evidence workers. Any service provider should operate as if they will not be around forever, actively planning for the persistence of the content over time should they collapse. Collaborating with other like-minded organizations is a critical component of providing this continuity of preservation.
- Change is part of the landscape and can ignite better stewardship practice: business models can change and challenges that arise can often mobilize the community to develop new solutions.
- Groups like the Digital Preservation Services Collaborative work closely together and collaborate across our various communities rather than directly compete with each other. This provides a broader solution set to the community rather than direct competition for profits and members.
- The collaboration of our organizations helps decrease the risk of our individual stewardship promises. Our practices are not profit-driven, we place the value of preservation above potential short-term losses.
Advocacy - We aim to inspire stakeholders at every level to engage, invest in, and sustain preserving our collective cultural heritage and academic record.
- While preservation might not seem as immediately attractive to stakeholders as acquisition and exhibit, preservation is the responsibility of cultural heritage institutions committed to acquiring and collecting digital content. It’s an ongoing cost that needs to be budgeted and considered, even after an organization folds.
- Digital preservation requires a specific and specialized skill set for staffing and tool allocation. These are, in turn, guided by the necessary policy frameworks that enable the successful execution of an integrated preservation strategy.
- The work is exciting and timely, requiring an expertise of legacy technology and formats while also operating on the cutting, and sometimes bleeding, edge of emerging technology.
- Cultural heritage leaders have a responsibility to provide preservation staff with enough resources so that it is feasible to sustain their mandates and to argue on their behalf when those resources are withheld.
- Any service practicing in this space is obligated to address its complex and systemic weaknesses, human and technical, openly.
Empowerment - We encourage capacity-building in our partners, members, and the larger digital preservation community to sustain our shared goal.
- A core philosophical tenet of these services is to foster, develop, and enhance the necessary skill for digital preservation rather than outsource that knowledge
- As professionals who develop and maintain preservation technology we rely on our active and engaged community to confirm we are building and sustaining useful, stable, and good practice guided services.
- The organizations who acquire, describe, and provide access to digital content are those who know how and at what level to preserve that content best. Preservation decisions can have significant and irreversible effects on the types of access that can be provided in the future.these decisions should be made by a preservationist equipped with the required knowledge and empowered to decide which preservation path to take based on the materials at hand, not because they are the default setting in a software program.
Purpose of the Declaration of Shared Values
Values and professional ethics are at the core of our work and guide our practices.
This declaration of shared values accomplishes the following:
- Summarizes principles that reflect our core values and establishes a set of specific principles that should be used to guide our efforts.
- Helps identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or uncertainties arise.
- Provides standards to which our community can hold us accountable.
- Socializes practitioners new to the field to our mission and values.
The declaration of shared values does not specify which values, principles, and standards are most important and ought to outweigh others in instances when they conflict. Reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist among our community. We will work together to resolve those conflicts in ways that support and promote our common goal.
Our work and thinking will evolve over time. We will strive to include stakeholders from all over the world and we invite those interested to join us in working together to preserve the collective human record. Contact our group to ask questions and/or participate.
1Short Definition of Digital Preservation by the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services, a Division of the American Library Association