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«The Strategic Programme for the Management of Digital Preservation of Governmental Records Mitra Samiee Assistant Professor and Director - General of ...»

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Submitted on: 15/07/2014

The Strategic Programme for the Management of Digital

Preservation of Governmental Records

Mitra Samiee

Assistant Professor and Director - General of Processing and Organizing of the National

Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran,Tehran.

E-mail address: m-samiei@nlai.ir

Kuhyar Davallu

Fellow member of the Art University, Tehran, Iran.

E-mail address: kuhyardavallu@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2014 by Mitra Samiee and Kuhyar Davallu. This work is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Abstract:

The NLAI, as the national organization in charge of preserving the legacy of national and governmental records in Iran, has taken noteworthy steps in digital preservation. The results of the survey show that the NLAI’s priority has been given to the digitization of national and governmental resources which are of historical and national importance. There have been some attempts to implement the following: development of hardware and software infrastructure, determination of priorities for the production of content in digital programmes, examination of standards in the area of digital resource preservation, national cooperation for the implementation of digital programme including the cooperation with national content consortium, use of security systems to develop a safe repository, application of national and international standards and protocols, compilation of the policy of access to digital resources, determination of policies for digital programme and raising funds.

Keywords: Governmental Records, Digital Preservation, OAIS, Strategic Programmes, NLAI

1. Introduction Given the huge bulk of information om the web and the ephemeral nature of web-pages, many national archives encounter difficulty in managing the preservation of digital information and making it accessible to the posterity (Gatenby, 2005,p.60-6). To manage the preservation of their digital records, these archives have launched digital archiving and have benefited from the Online Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model in order to develop and design the digital archives in question. There are many models and paradigms for the management of digital records.

However, to achieve the purpose of permanent access to records, certain processes should be carried out including 1) selection and acquisition of records to preserve their value permanently in a safe place generally known as digital archive; 2) organization of acquired records to expedite management and access to them; 3) application of digital preservation programme so as to thwart the threats arising from the change of software and technologies upon which these resources depend.

The technologies of digital information storage are rapidly developing and new formats are entering the market as old and outdated media disappear and the information based on obsolete technologies becomes inaccessible. Therefore it is necessary for the archives to adopt policies and strategies as to deal with this issue, so that they can preserve all digital records perpetually on standard media and make them accessible. The development of policies and digital records` preservation programmes for many archives is a real challenge as Gatenby (2004, p.362) remarks in

his article:

Preservation considerations and strategies have been integral from the outset to the Library’s development of digital collections. The objective of collecting web resources that are archived in PANDORA is to manage them over time in order to provide on-going public access to them.

This requires both immediate and long-term planning and active day-to-day management of the archived resources (Gatenby, 2004, p.362).

In other countries, some research into this issue have been carried out by archives and international organizations, but in Iran not much has been done except for Samiee`s PhD dissertation (2010) entitled “A survey of preservation of digital resources in the national libraries with the membership of the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) and proposing a preservation plan for the National Library & Archive of Iran”. In most of the works available in the other countries, standards, strategies and challenges of archivists have been surveyed, amongst which one can make mention of Grace`s dissertation entitled “Adapting preservation policy in archives to the digital age.” He has presented an overview of digital technology and preservation policies in association with collections of cultural heritage and a survey of digital preservation policies in the selected national archives and one national library. The findings of this research signify the predominance of technology as a deterrent factor in policy-making over digital preservation.

Lee (2005) in his PhD dissertation entitled “Defining digital preservation work: a case study of the development of the reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS)” presents methods of developing a preservation standard, entitled the OAIS reference model, and describes the entities of this standard for its development and maintenance for long-termed access of users and comprehension of the information in archives. Nordland (2007) in his PhD dissertation entitled “The International Development Research Center as a case study for long-termed digital preservation strategy” deals with the challenges of archivists and records` managers in the realm of management of long-termed preservation of digital records. Duranti (2007) in his article entitled “An overview of InterPARES3(2007-2012) attempts to identify the elements of electronic records which should be preserved and also to devise some criteria for the evaluation of the preservation method of digital records and not to mention some principles for the development of national and international strategies for the long-termed preservation of electronic records.





In a report of The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA, 2008) the following issues have been looked into in accordance with the OAIS reference model: development of a persistent archive for ingest, archival storage, discovery, and preservation of digital collections based on preservation programme. The other research projects carried out pertaining to digital preservation include the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program's (NDIIPP) Library of Congress (2010),"the handbook strategy of digital preservation, British Library”(2010), “Policy of digital preservation, National Library of Australia” (2008); and finally “Digital initiatives at the library and archive of Canada”(2010). Due to the structural resemblance existing between the National Library and Archive of Canada and the NLAI, the former has been determined for this case study.

In this paper we intend to assess the status of digital preservation of governmental records at the NLAI compared with those in the National Library and Archive of Canada and based on the two following questions whose answers we will try to provide.

1-What is the current status of digital preservation at the NLAI?

2-Which strategies are proposed for the long- termed preservation of digital national heritage at the NLAI?

2. The Status of National Governmental Records Governmental records as common international monuments contribute considerably to the maintenance of religious, national and cultural identity of the past present and future. It should not be forgotten that these monuments are vulnerable. Many of unique and valuable records and even whole archival collections in the course of history have deteriorated due to natural hazards and disasters and especially wars or, they may have got torn up or worn out through the negligence of government or their owners. A notable part of records` heritage on a worldwide, regional, national and provincial scale have perished as a result of paper acidity, parchment formats, vellum, overexposed films and magnetic tapes, heat, moisture and dust. In addition to natural factors, human events and incidents may also damage the archives. We can protect our records against these events only if we take preventive measures. One of these preventive actions in the modern age of information is digital preservation. According to the definition of digital preservation coalition Digital preservation refers to the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. Digital preservation is defined very broadly for the purposes of this study and refers to all of the actions required to maintain access to digital materials beyond the limits of media failure or technological change. Those materials may be records created during the day-to-day business of an organization; "born-digital" materials created for a specific purpose (e.g. teaching resources); or the products of digitization projects.

Digital preservation involves two fundamental processes, namely archiving and accessing the content of resources in the long run. Now we must establish which factors are likely to threaten the accessibility of the digital object in the future. Dependence on technology in digital resources which results in their obsolescence and short life-span, is today one of the gravest challenges as regards preservation (Reed, B. 2006, p.119). One of the other challenges disrupting access to digital object is the threat of software problems, network faults, user errors, ease of manipulation, internal and external invasions, (Gladney, H.M. 2007, p.10) software limitations, limitations on file formats, software obsolescence, and the need for a constant cycle of management and a constant budget for digital preservation, (Gladney.2007, p.10). Organizational and legal challenges are some of the other problems arising in digital preservation.

Iran’s National Archive is the government’s memory and protector of national identity and the records existing therein help the government make right decisions based on historical evidence and precedence.Broadly speaking some of the goals and tasks at the National Archive of Iran (NLAI)

include:

- Collection and preservation of national records (governmental and non-governmental) and providing proper facilities and conditions for public access to these records;

- Determination of a suitable policy to deal with disused records of the government and its affiliates and identification of the valuable and useful records;

- Scrutiny over the execution of laws and proposals ratified by the council of national records at governmental organizations and affiliations;

- Scrutiny over the transfer of records worthy of preservation to the organization

- Preservation and maintenance,restoration, arrangement, and processing of archival records collected by real and legal institutes In order to preserve and maintain the national and governmental records, since 2006 the NLAI has included within the new organizational chart the department of records` preservation and

maintenance consisting of four divisions:

1) Pathology and laboratory;

2) Pathology and restoration of records;

3) Microfilms and digital records;

4) Preservation of audio-video resources.

Given the threatening factors in digital preservation, some challenges arise; for instance who takes charge of preserving the digitized governmental records, and how can digital governmental records be preserved among the media used for recording information in view of their short life-span, and which strategies exist to maintain the accessibility of digital governmental records? It has been some time now since these challenges in the archives of different countries have turned to serious concerns of digital preservation. The National Archive of Iran that is officially responsible for the preservation of national heritage, has taken effective measures to deal with the challenges in question.

One of the researches carried out on digital preservation abroad is “Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS)” which is a reference model for digital preservation by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS)(2002). The explosion of information in digital media has brought some challenges about. In this paper we have attempted to propose strategies for the long-termed preservation within the framework of the OAIS as a reference model for preservation and long-term digital access in the persistent repository.

3.Methodology In this research, while looking into the state of digital preservation at the NLAI based on a survey using a checklist designed by the researcher, the digital preservation at the library and archives of Canada has also been examined using the library method and because of the common library and archival structure. By drawing on the components and requirements discovered for digital preservation and adapting to the needs of the NLAI, a checklist has been compiled. The components in question include: digital object, digital repository, the management structure of a digital repository, compliance with the OAIS, compliance with the DELOS Reference Model, preservation tools, ingestion and storage, metadata and metadata projects, standards, access, acquisitions, preservation strategies, preservation policies, organizational structures, labour, and budget and national approaches. The checklist was drawn using the above-mentioned components in a series of 18 questions.

–  –  –

Although the software system is not yet fully developed and is still being promoted frequently, it enjoys such outstanding features as compliance with the format of standard file and standards, costefficiency, maintenance of specifications, capacity for software development, promotion, support and policy-making. The budget allocated to digital programme at the NLAI covers software costs, establishment of collections, hardware and labour.

The use of a consolidated digital repository for the storage of digital objects and observation of security procedures assures the physical protection of the organization. The adoption of dangermanagement strategies and the development of programmes and models to eliminate factors likely to threaten the repository, are part of plans designed to maintain the safety of the repository and which can be found on the agenda of the NLAI`s preservation programmes.



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