This interesting piece of news originally appeared on NINCH-ANNOUNCE and may
be of interest to those following developments in digital preservation


Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 09:01:43 EST
Sender: Digital-Preservation Announcement and Information List
<[log in to unmask]>
From: "Neil Beagrie," <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Towards a Digital Preservation Coalition in the UK
To: [log in to unmask]

dear all

a very successful and productive summit was held in London on 16th January
to discuss the formation of the digital preservation coalition. The
following text for an article/report will appear in various publications
shortly and is also posted to this list

This article reports on proposals to establish a Digital Preservation
Coalition in the UK. The Coalition aims to develop a UK digital preservation
agenda within an international context. The article provides background on
the issues and proposals and reports on a digital preservation summit held
in London on 16th January 2001 to discuss establishment of the Coalition.

1. Introduction
Electronic resources form an increasingly large part of our cultural and
intellectual heritage. In addition to electronic publications, the Web, and
e-commerce, there is an array of new UK initiatives and legislation, from
Modernising Government to the Freedom of Information Act, which is putting
an onus on public organisations to provide access to, manage and archive
their information in electronic form. In the research arena, there are also
significant developments particularly in the sciences towards very large
primary research data sets in electronic form e.g. in genomics or earth
There are significant challenges associated with ensuring access and
preservation of these materials into the future. Electronic resources
regardless of whether they are created initially through digitisation or are
"born" digital are threatened by technological obsolescence and physical
deterioration. With content from international publishers, increasing
globalisation and sharing of resources, and the involvement of a range of
libraries, archives, services, and cultural heritage organisations, our
ability to preserve access to these electronic resources into the future
depends on the collaboration and engagement of a wide range of stakeholders.

National institutions and services, and individual local institutions
increasingly need to raise awareness of digital preservation, and develop
capacity, skills and expertise to administer or manage for the long-term
intellectual and cultural assets they have developed in digital form. These
institutions have recognised the value of collaboration in addressing
digital preservation. Establishment of a Digital Preservation Coalition was
the principal recommendation of the Warwick II digital preservation workshop
held in March 1999, which had representation from a wide range of sectors,
institutions, and practitioners in digital preservation.

There are a number of reasons why institutions at Warwick wished to
establish a Coalition. First, attendees recognised they needed a
collaborative effort to get digital preservation on the agenda of key
decision-makers and funders in terms that they will find persuasive and
understand. Secondly, projects and initiatives are proliferating and the
institutions themselves felt there would be significant value in developing
the umbrella organisation to help coordinate and keep a watching brief and
monitoring role on their behalf. Thirdly, despite sectoral differences it
was felt that most of the technical and some organisational issues remain
the same for all organisations. There are therefore significant synergies
and mutual self-interest in collaboration. At the same time the efforts of
individual institutions and sectors can be leveraged and co-ordinated
through collaboration to achieve wider national benefits. Finally, it was
felt that the Digital Preservation Coalition could tap additional skills and
funding and help address and contribute to development of national
strategies, infrastructure and skills in digital preservation.

Concrete action towards the establishment of the Coalition is now in
progress. In June 2000 JISC established a post within the DNER and appointed
Neil Beagrie to provide a focal point for digital preservation activities
within JISC and the higher and further education communities, and to help
establish and support the Coalition proposed at Warwick. Although the exact
remit, shape and programme for the Coalition will be resolved in
consultation with proposed members, a draft outline of the Coalition and its
remit and work was discussed at a digital preservation summit held in London
on 16th January 2001.

2. Outcomes from the Summit

Participants representing national, university and public libraries,
archives, data archiving services, publishers, research councils and
government bodies unanimously endorsed the need for co-ordinated work on
digital preservation and for the establishment of a coalition. Participants
recognised that the subject is bigger than any one institution or sector.

It was agreed that the aim of the Coalition will be to develop a UK digital
preservation agenda within an international context.

The Coalition was seen as operating on four levels:
* activities undertaken individually by member institutions and sectors but
accomplished and co-ordinated in line with their commitment to the
principles of openness and dissemination in the draft manifesto;
* core coalition activities of common interest and benefit to all its
members supported by resources from its membership;
* collaborative projects and programmes which would be taken forward with
project funding drawn from a variety of sources.
* the creation and further development of a national digital archiving
infrastructure in the UK.

Suggestions for core activities and first programmes included:
* awareness raising amongst key funders and stakeholders;
* development of a digital preservation portal incorporating the
Preservation Management of Digital Materials Workbook, in collaboration with
international partners;
* establishing a dialogue with software and hardware manufacturers;
* developing standards to support digital preservation;
* training and addressing the skills and competencies needed for digital
* applied practical research and development in member institutions and
sharing experience;
* archiving of commercial e journals;
* web archiving.

Funding and the most effective organisational model for the Coalition were
discussed, and JISC and the BL agreed to continue discussions with potential
partners in the Coalition and to co-ordinate its establishment.

Further general information and news on the Coalition will be disseminated
via the digital-preservation email list on JISCmail). Enquiries about the
coalition can be addressed in the first instance to Neil Beagrie email
[log in to unmask], JISC office, King's College London, Strand Bridge
House, 138 -142 Strand, London WC2 1HH.