Digital Preservation Policy

Created May 2015; Revised December 2015 

  1. Purpose

The Digital Preservation Policy Framework formalizes the commitment of James Madison University (JMU) Libraries  to the long-term preservation of its diverse range of digital assets, assuring continued long-term access to these resources. Decisions regarding digital preservation are made based on this framework document for digital assets within the custody of JMU Libraries.

Preservation strategies may involve a combination of approaches, including locally managed stewardship, stewardship entrusted to a partner, vendor, or other outside entity. Preservation of digital assets may include any actions necessary to preserve persistent long-term access to the content, ensure authenticity of the materials, and mitigate the effects of media or technological obsolescence.

Preservation and persistent long-term access to digital assets requires support from units across JMU Libraries, including planning, research, documentation of procedures, and regular monitoring of digital materials.

  1. Standards Compliance

JMU Libraries acknowledge the need to comply with current and prevailing national standards and practice of digital preservation. JMU Libraries is committed to developing its digital preservation policies, repositories, and strategies in accordance with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model. JMU Libraries, within prevailing technological, staffing, and resource constraints, aims to closely align its policy, practices, and procedures with ISO 16363/TDR, A Standard for Trusted Digital Repositories.

  1. Administrative Responsibility

JMU Libraries is responsible for developing and implementing strategies for persistent, long-term access to digital assets with its stewardship.

3.1  Objectives

The primary purpose of digital preservation activities is to preserve future access to digital assets determined to be of high value to the university over time. Some objectives of this framework include:

  • Protect JMU Libraries’ investment through a fully implemented digital preservation program
  • Demonstrate organizational commitment through the identification of sustainable funding for digital preservation activities
  • Comply with current and nationally-recognized standards and best practices of digital preservation
  • Seek, expand, and develop digital preservation methods that are appropriate for the digital assets in the care of JMU Libraries
  • Include both born-digital and digitized materials within the scope of this policy framework
  • Identify and support a core digital preservation team to develop a digital preservation program and provide on-going training and development as needed
  • Identify through systematic selection, classes of digital assets to be preserved, and preservation levels to be applied
  • Assess the risks for loss of content posed by technology variables, including proprietary file formats, applications, and obsolescence
  • Evaluate individual digital assets to determine what preservation actions will be required to ensure persistent, long-term access


  1. Organizational Viability

4.1  Role and Responsibilities

Within JMU Libraries, the oversight and management of digital preservation activities and the lifecycle of locally born digital content is led by the Collections Department, and accomplished more specifically through the contributions of the Digital Collections unit, the Preservation Officer, the Director of Collections, the Director of Media Services, the Special Collections unit, the Digital Services Department, the Scholarly Content Systems Department, and the Dean of Libraries and Educational Technologies. Where appropriate other units and committees are consulted, these may include, but are not limited to, the Center for Instructional Technologies and Scholarly Communication Steering Committee. Dean’s Council of the JMU Libraries evaluates high-level policy documents and reviews programmatic plans and progress.

4.2  Scope

The Collections Department, and Digital Collections specifically, are primarily responsible for identifying, securing, and providing the means to preserve and ensure access to locally born or created digital assets and acquired digital assets under the stewardship of JMU Libraries. However, JMU Libraries recognizes that not all digital assets created or acquired by the Libraries can be preserved, or fall under the purview of the Collections Department.

Priorities for digital assets are:

Priority 1: Born-Digital Materials: Rigorous effort will be made to ensure the preservation of selected born-digital objects for preservation in perpetuity. Preservation levels will be determined based on formats found in Appendix A as well as an evaluation of content.

Priority 2: Digitized Materials with No Corresponding Physical Version: Every reasonable step will be taken to preserve materials without a corresponding physical version. This includes materials that were loaned to the institution for digitizing, or those digital objects where no physical version exists. Also included are digitized materials that have annotations or other value-added features that make them difficult or impossible to recreate.

Priority 3: Digitized Materials with Available Physical Version: Reasonable measures will be taken to extend the life of the digital objects with a readily available physical version. However, the cost of re-digitizing materials as needed will be assessed against the cost of preserving existing digital objects.

Priority 4: Ephemeral Items and Other Materials : No preservation steps will be taken for ephemeral materials such as materials scanned for reserves, e-delivery, interlibrary loan, items that represent a portion of a larger collection, and content that is deemed non-essential to the comprehensive collections.

Priority 5: Commercially Available Digital Assets:  JMU Libraries has responsibility for working externally through licensing agreements, consortial action, etc. to assure that preservation activities are carried out to provide ongoing access to these digital assets. Particular emphasis is given to those materials that exist only in digital form.

Priority 6: Administrative, scholarly, and other digital assets created at the University outside of the Libraries[1]: JMU Libraries have responsibility for informing, consulting, and, as appropriate, consulting with other units of James Madison University to ensure that JMU faculty, staff, and students will have adequate ongoing access to these resources.

JMU Libraries will aspire to follow the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Levels of Digital Preservation, illustrated in Appendix B.

4.3  Operating Principles

JMU Libraries will use the following principles and actions to guide the development, implementation, and management of the digital preservation program.

  • Access: Long-term access to selected digital content is the primary goal of all preservation activities
  • Authenticity: Establish and maintain procedures to meet archival requirements to the provenance, chain of custody, authenticity, and integrity (both bit-level and content) of digital assets.
  • Collaboration: Partnerships and collaborative agreements will be investigated and established when deemed an appropriate use of the Libraries’ resources.
  • Intellectual Property: Develop and maintain policies and procedures for the preservation of and access to digital assets that are in accordance with applicable intellectual property laws.
  • Standards and Best Practices:
    • Comply with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model standard in the development of digital preservation practice
    • Align policies, procedures, and practices with ISO 16363/TDR, A Standard for Trusted Digital Repositories
    • Adhere to prevailing community-based standards in developing and maintaining organizational and technological context
  • Sustainability: Develop and maintain a sustainability plan for the digital repositories that is transparent and cost-effective
  • Technology:
    • Develop the digital repositories to maximize scalability, flexibility, and reliability
    • Employ appropriate storage management technologies for digital assets, including online, near-line, and off-line storage as appropriate
    • Ensure the technology and storage mechanisms utilized for the digital repositories is managed in accordance with environmental, quality control, security, and other standards and requirements
  • Training:
    • Provide on-going training for staff in areas related to digital preservation
    • Raise awareness of digital preservation issues and developments for staff and broader community
  • Transparency: Created consistent, documented, and regularly-updated policies, procedures, practices for the program and the operation of the digital repositories within a distributed environment.

4.4  Selection and Acquisition

The JMU Libraries, Special Collections  and Scholarly Commons collection development policies set forth the priorities and criteria for acquiring content, both in digital and non-digital formats. The JMU Libraries’ digital assets are subject to these same overarching criteria for selection, curation, management, and preservation as other collection resources.

4.5  Access and Use

Without the persistent, long-term preservation of digital assets, access would not be possible. Access to preserved digital content is provided using the most appropriate technology available at the time of processing and use. When retaining the look and feel is deemed essential, the libraries will seek to enable the original versions of the digital objects to be rendered over time. Appropriate preservation plans to render original versions of digital assets are devised on a case-by-case basis and are revised as needed.

4.6  Challenges

There are recognized challenges in implementing an effective and enduring digital preservation program, including:

  • Rapid growth and evolution: Technology that enables the variety of formats and dissemination mechanisms changes rapidly. A responsive digital preservation program to meet these changes is a large challenge.
  • Sustainability: The need for cost-effective and affordable models for digital preservation are widely acknowledged. The digital preservation program should reflect reasonable expectations of requisite resources.
  • Content provider partnerships: Working with creators and providers of valued digital content to employ provisions appropriate to the characteristics of the digital assets prior to deposit will better facilitate persistent, long-term preservation.
  • Contractual donor obligations: The complexity of the preservation landscape can lead to unsustainable preservation expectations associated with digital collection donations. To mitigate these issues, contracts and deeds of gift must explicitly state the preservation capabilities and obligations as relates to collections.
  • Enabling full preservation: Ongoing effort and financial commitment are required for moving from well-managed digital assets to preserved digital assets.
  • Flexibility: The digital repositories must continually revise the definition of delivery mechanisms in response to evolving technological capabilities and changing user expectations



  1. Financial Sustainability

JMU Libraries has identified specific resources to support and enhance digital preservation functions within the organization.

5.1  Institutional Commitment

To sustain its digital preservation function, JMU Libraries has allocated a portion of its permanent budget to digital preservation services. In addition, JMU Libraries will continually seek additional funding to extend its digital preservation scope and capabilities.

5.2  Cooperation and Collaboration

JMU Libraries is collaborating with James Madison University and other institutions to:

  • Advance the development of the digital preservation program within JMU Libraries and Educational Technologies
  • Share lessons learned with other digital preservation programs
  • Extend the digital content that is available to JMU Libraries users through cooperative efforts
  1. System Security

The processing procedures for digital assets held by JMU Libraries actively address the need for ensuring the accuracy and completeness of digital content through careful comparison of documentation and the generation of metadata. The JMU Libraries ensure the authenticity and integrity of digital assets through the active and ongoing use of checksums from the receipt of the digital asset onward. In addition, JMU Libraries conducts periodic reviews and audits of digital assets in storage.

  1. Procedural Accountability

As a proponent of good digital preservation practice, JMU Libraries is committed to transparency in its policies and operations and has established a program to develop, promulgate, and maintain a comprehensive set of policies, procedures and protocols.

7.1  Policy Framework Administration

This digital preservation policy framework was created in May 2015, and last updated in December 2015. The Digital Collections Librarian, in coordination with others as appropriate, will review the framework biannually to ensure it remains current and comprehensive as the digital preservation functions within the JMU Libraries evolves.

  1. Definitions

8.1  Access: The services and functions which make the archival information holdings and related services visible to Consumers and authorized users. This includes restricting access in some instances due to copyright, confidentiality, or statutory requirements.[2]

8.2  Authenticity: A mechanical characteristic of any digital object that reflects the degree of trustworthiness in the object, in that the supportive metadata accompanying the object makes it clear that the possessed object is what it purports to be.[3]

8.3  Born-digital: A descriptor for information that is created in digital form, as opposed to digitized from analog sources.[4]

8.4  Chain of Custody: A process used to maintain and document the chronological history of the handling, including the transfer of ownership, of any arbitrary digital file from its creation to a final state version.[5]

8.5  Checksum: An algorithmically-computed numeric value for a file or a set of files used to validate the state and content of the file for the purpose of detecting accidental errors that may have been introduced during its transmission or storage. The integrity of the data can be checked at any later time by re-computing the checksum and comparing it with the stored one. If the checksums match, the data was almost certainly not altered.[6]

8.6  Digital Assets: A collection of computer files that contain intellectual content (images, texts, sounds, video) and/or descriptive metadata of the content and its digital format.  They represent an investment for the depositor and an information resource for the researcher.[7]

8.7  Integrity: Internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data.[8]

8.8  Metadata: Structured information that describes the context, content and structure of a document and their management over time to allow users to find, manage, control, understand or preserve information over time.[9]

8.9  Open Archival Information System (OAIS): The Open Archive Information System (OAIS) Reference Model, an ISO standard that formally expresses the roles (producer, management, consumer, and implicitly archives), functions (common services, ingest, archival storage, data management, administration, preservation planning, and access), and content (submission information package, archival information collection, archival information package, and dissemination information package) of an archive. It was approved as an ISO standard in 2003 and updated in 2012: ISO 14721:2012.[10]

8.10  Preservation: The processes and operations in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of objects through time.[11]

8.11  Standards: Rules typically developed, adopted, and promoted by large organizations that can advocate for their broad usage. Data standards enable the exchange of data while technology standards enable the delivery of data between systems.[12]

8.12  Trusted Digital Repository: A trusted digital repository is one whose mission is to provide long-term access to managed digital assets to its designated community, now and into the future; that accepts responsibility for the long-term maintenance of digital assets on behalf of its depositors and for the benefit of current and future users; that designs its system(s) in accordance with commonly accepted conventions and standards to ensure the ongoing management, access, and security of materials deposited within it; that establishes methodologies for system evaluation that meet community expectations of trustworthiness; that can be depended upon to carry out its long-term responsibilities to depositors and users openly and explicitly; and whose policies, practices, and performance can be audited and measured.[13]



Appendix A: Digital Formats and Level of Preservation

Media Preservation Formats Supported Formats Unstable or Non-Preservation Formats
Text ·  Plain Text (encoding: US-ASCII, UTF-8, UTF-16 with BOM)

·  Plain Text (ISO 8859-1)

·  XML (includes XSD/XSL/SHTML, etc. with included or accessible schema and character encoding explicitly specified)

·  PDF/A (ISO 19005) (*pdf)

·  PDF (*.pdf) (embedded fonts)

·  Rich Text Format 1.x (*.rtf)

·  HTML (with DOCTYPE declaration) (*.htm, *.html)

·  SGML (*.sgml)

·  Cascading Style Sheets (*.css)

·   Microsoft Word (*.doc)

·   WordPerfect (*.wpd)

·   DVI (*.dvi)

·  Any other formats not listed here

Images (Still) ·  TIFF (uncompressed)

·  JPEG2000 (lossless) (*.jp2)


·  BMP (*.bmp)

·  JPEG (*.jpg)

·  JPEG2000 (lossy) (*.jp2)

·  TIFF (compressed)

·  GIF (*.gif)

·   Digital Native DNG (*.dng)

·   MrSID (*.sid)

·   TIFF (in Planar format)

·   FlashPix (*.fpx)

·   Photoshop (*.psd)

·   RAW

·   JPEG2000 Part 2 (*.jpf, *.jpx)

·  All other image formats not listed here

Graphics ·  SVG (no Java script binding) (*.svg) ·  Computer Graphic Metafile (CGM, WebCGM) (*.cgm) ·   Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)

·   Macromedia Flash (*.swf)

·   All other vector image formats not listed here

Audio ·  AIFF (PCM) (*.aif, *.aiff)

·  Broadcast wave (*.bwv)

·  Linear Pulse Code Modulated Audio (LPCM) (*.raw / *.aes)

·  WAV (PCM) (*.wav)

·  MP3 (MPEG-1/2, Layer 3) (*.mp3)

·  Standard MIDI (*.mid, *.midi)

·  Advance Audio Coding (*.mp4, *.m4a, *.aac)

·  Ogg Vorbis (*.ogg)

·  SUN Audio (uncompressed) (*.au)

·  Free Lossless Audio Codec (*.flac)

·   AIFC (compressed) (*.aifc)

·   NeXT SND (*.snd)

·   RealNetworks ‘Real Audio’ (*.ra, *.rm, *.ram)

·   Windows Media Audio (*.wma)

·   Protected AAC (*.m4p)

·   WAV (compressed) (*.wav)

·   All other audio formats not listed here

Video ·  Motion JPEG 2000 (ISO/IEC 15444-4) (*.mj2)

·  AVI (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.avi)

·  QuickTime Movie (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.mov)

·  Motion JPEG 2000 (ISO/IEC 15444-4) (uncompressed, wrapped in MXF)

·  MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (*.mpg, *.mpeg, wrapped in AVI, MOV)

·  MPEG-4 (H.263, H.264) (*.mp4, wrapped in AVI, MOV)

·  Ogg Theora (*.ogg)


·   AVI (others) (*.avi)

·   QuickTime Movie (others)

·   RealNetworks ‘Real Video’ (*.rv)

·   Windows Media Video (*.wmv)

·   All other video formats not listed here

Spreadsheet / Database ·  Comma Separated Values (*.csv)

·  Delimited Text (*.txt)


·  DBF (*.dbf)

·  OOXML (ISO/IEC DIS 29500) (*.xlsx)

·  Microsoft Excel (*.xls)

·  Microsoft Access (*.mdb)

·   All other spreadsheet/database formats not listed here
Computer Programs ·  None ·  Computer program source code (*.c, *.c++, *.java, *.js, *.jsp, *php, *.pl, etc.) ·   Compiled/Executable files (EXE, *.class, COM, DLL, BIN, DRV, OVL, SYS, PIF)
Presentation ·  None ·  OOXML (ISO/IEC DIS 29500) (*.pptx)

·  PowerPoint (*.ppt)

·   All other presentation formats not listed here
Web Archiving ·  WARC ·  None ·   All other web formats not listed here

Appendix B: NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation[14]

Version 1 of the Levels of Digital Preservation

Level 1

(Protect your data)

Level 2

(Know your data)

Level 3

(Monitor your data)

Level 4

(Repair your data)

Storage and Geographic Location ·  Two complete copies that are not collocated

·  For data on heterogeneous media (optical discs, hard drives, etc.) get the content off the medium and into your storage system

· At least three complete copies

· At least one copy in a different geographic location

· Document your storage system(s) and storage media and what you need to use them

· At least one copy in a different geographic location with a different disaster threat

· Obsolescence monitoring process for your storage system(s) and media

· At least three copies in geographic locations with different disaster threats
File Fixity and Data Integrity · Check file fixity on ingest if it has been provided with the content

· Create fixity info if it wasn’t provided with the content

· Check all fixity on ingests

· Use write-blockers when working with original media

· Virus-check high risk content

· Check fixity of content at fixed intervals

· Maintain logs of fixity info; supply audit on demand

· Ability to detect corrupt data

· Virus-check all content

·  Check fixity of all content in response to specific events or activities

·  Ability to replace/repair corrupted data

·  Ensure no one person has write access to all copies

Information Security ·  Identify how has read, write, move and delete authorization to individual files

·  Restrict who has those authorizations to individual files

·  Document access restrictions for content


·  Maintain logs of who performed what actions on files, including deletions and preservation actions ·  Perform audit of logs
Metadata ·   Inventory of content and its storage location

·   Ensure backup and non-collocation of inventory

·   Store administrative metadata

·   Store transformative metadata and log events

·  Store standard and technical metadata ·  Store standard preservation metadata
File Formats ·   When you can give input into the creation of digital files encourage use of a limited set of known open formats and codecs ·   Inventory of file formats in use ·  Monitor file format obsolescence issues ·  Perform format migrations, emulation and similar activities as needed


Digital Preservation Framework. University of Minnesota Libraries. 2012, revised 2014. Retrieved from: Verified URL 11 June 2015.

Digital Preservation Glossary. University of Minnesota Libraries. Modified April 29, 2014. Verified URL 18 November 2015.

Glossary. California Digital Library. Verified URL 18 November 2015.

JISC Digital Media. Establishing a Digital Preservation Policy. Retrieved from: Verified URL: 11 June 2015.

Levels of Digital Preservation. National Digital Stewardship Alliance. 2013. Verified URL: 18 November 2015.

MetaArchive Cooperative. Preservation Policy Template. 2010. Retrieved from: Verified URL 11 June 2015.

Purdue University Research Repository (PURR) Digital Preservation Policy. 2012. Retrieved from: Verified URL 11 June 2015.

University of South Caroline Libraries. Digital Preservation Policy Framework. 2010. Retrieved from: Verified URL 11 June 2015.

Yale University Library. Policy for Digital Preservation. 2005, Revised 2007. Retrieved from: Verified URL 11 June 2015.




Document History



Approved By:     Dean’s Council                     Date Approved:


Reviewed By:                       Data Management Librarian, Nov 2015

Director, Acquisitions & Cataloging (Cheri Duncan), Nov 20, 2015/Dec 9, 2015
Director of Collections (Cheri Duncan), Nov 20, 2015/Dec 9, 2015

TS Leadership (M. Butcher, C. Duncan, J. Fagan, S. Gasser), Dec 8, 2015
Review Frequency:          Biannually


Review Responsibility:  Digital Collections Librarian (Laura Drake-Davis)


Revision Dates:                   November 19, 2015

December 9, 2015


Created By:                            Digital Collections Librarian (Laura Drake-Davis), May 2015


Related Policies and Procedures:

JMU Libraries Collection Development Policy

JMU Libraries Special Collections Collection Development Policy

JMU Scholarly Commons  Collection Development Policy

Deeds of Gift




[1] Content within digital repositories managed by LET reflect a continued commitment to long-term preservation and access to materials regardless of origination. Content within the repositories will be represented by a variety of the priority levels.

[2] University of Minnesota Digital Preservation and Archiving Glossary. Accessed November 2015.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] California Digital Library. Glossary. Accessed November 2015.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA). Levels of Digital Preservation, Version1, 2013. Accessed November 2015.

Source(s) of Authority: Digital Collections, Collection Development Committee, Director of Scholarly Resources & Discovery