Statement of CUL policy for preservation of digital resources
According to the Columbia University Libraries’ Mission Statement:
The Columbia University Libraries provides Columbia faculty, students, and staff with access to information in all subject areas related to the University’s academic mission and its goals. The Libraries embraces its time-honored obligations of collecting, preserving, and providing access to collections, not only for the Columbia community but also for scholars and students from throughout the world who require access to the Libraries’ unique materials.
Digital resources are part of the CUL collections and subject to the same criteria for selection and retention decisions as other media. As such, they are included under the central CUL preservation policy: ensuring that the collections remain available over the long term through prevention of damage and deterioration; reversing damage where possible; and, when necessary, changing the format of materials to preserve their intellectual content.
As with other parts of the collections, decisions about preservation are made by selectors, curators, and bibliographers as experts on the value of the content, in consultation with the relevant technical experts, including the Library Digital Program Division, the Library Systems Office, and the Preservation Division. Priorities for preservation action are based on this Policy, the CUL Strategic Plan, and available budgetary support. When possible, decisions about the need for long-term retention should be made at the time of creation, acquisition, or licensing of digital resources.
For digital resources that are deemed to be of long-term value, preservation can be defined as the actions needed to assure enduring access to the full content of those resources over time. Content has wider implications than simply assuring that a given file can be accessed. For example, hierarchical and structural relationships among the files (such as the pages of a book) and metadata that make the files usable must be preserved as well as the files themselves,
Digital resources may exist in multiple versions. CUL is committed to preserving the archival version: the fullest, highest-quality available version of the resource, whenever possible; and the descriptive, structural, and administrative metadata associated with it.
Scope of preservation responsibility
CUL recognizes three levels of responsibility for retention and management of digital resources.
- CUL-held digital resources. CUL has primary responsibility for preservation of:
- Digital resources created by CUL and deemed to be of long-term value.
- Digital versions of resources reformatted by CUL and deemed to be of long-term value.
- Unique digital resources which are acquired by CUL (through donation or purchase) as parts of archival/manuscript collections and which are unlikely to be preserved anywhere else.
- Digital records (e.g. bibliographic records, personnel records) essential to CUL’s functioning not preserved through any other arm of the university.
- Commercially available digital resources. CUL has responsibility for working externally through consortial action, licensing agreements, etc. to assure that someone (possibly but not necessarily CUL) carries out preservation so that CU faculty, staff, and students will have adequate ongoing access to these resources. Particular emphasis should be given to resources which exist in digital form only.
- Administrative, scholarly, and other digital resources created at the University outside of the Libraries. CUL has responsibility for informing, consulting, and as appropriate coordinating with other units of Columbia University to assure that CU faculty, staff, and students will have adequate ongoing access to these resources. Included here are resources considered to be part of the digital library (EPIC ventures, others) and of long-term value.
Frequency with which preservation/retention policy for digital materials will be updated
This policy will be reviewed by at the beginning of each academic year to assure timely updates as technology and experience mature, or more often if need arises.