Creating and keeping our digital content

Celebrating World Digital Preservation Day – 5 November 2020

Academic, cultural, business and scientific organisations around the world celebrate World Digital Preservation Day. It is a day where we acknowledge that for our digital content to have an enduring lifespan, it must be cared for.

Sometimes it is easy to forget where exactly digital content we captured or created is stored. Understanding ‘cloud’ services where we may keep our content are also rarely transparent to us as individuals.

In this year of COVID-19, we’ve become further dependent on the digital environment. The Library’s digital collections projects have continued this year, digitising and making available collection items from our Rare Books & Special Collections, and supporting the Open Access publishing of Higher Degree by Research digital theses – all content that can be accessed remotely.

We have also created new initiatives for students, staff and alumni, such as ‘writing a message to the future’ or contributing digital content created to our COVID-19 collecting project. Now more than ever it is essential we act responsibly; stewarding our digital content in the present, to ensure its availability in the future.

A large proportion of the digital content in our collections needs to be preserved. Prior to the pandemic reaching Australian shores, in early 2020 the University of Sydney Library became a member of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC). Being a part of the this international community helps us to:

  • develop staff skillsets through training opportunities
  • share specialist technical knowledge
  • discuss organisational change strategies
  • learn from similar institutions.

The University of Sydney Library has begun its journey of preserving its digital content in our collections, yet we are aware of the many challenges that lie ahead.

We know ‘dark archives’ are required for the long-term storage of our ‘preservation master’ files.

We are also aware that libraries such as ours have content on older carriers, which can take effort to transfer from, due to fragility of the carriers and requiring legacy equipment to read it.

Older storage media such as CDs, zip drives, floppy disks

The University of Sydney Library is committed to providing the best experience for teaching and learning. A key consideration is how we can protect and preserve valuable resources, and provide access to these collections now and into the future. Join us in celebrating World Digital Preservation Day in recognition of these efforts.