Digital Preservation at Purdue

Just as the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections is committed to the preservation and access of Purdue’s physical records of enduring value, so too is it committed to the preservation and access of Purdue’s historically significant digital records. In collaboration with departments throughout the library and across campus, the Archives Staff is exploring new practices and technologies such as digital forensics to access content off of fragile media and web archiving to preserve Purdue’s web culture. The Archives is also working in partnership with the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR) and Purdue ePubs to preserve research data and scholarly publications.

In the Archives, staff approaches digital preservation with three strategies in mind:

  • Open formats: While the Archives will accept digital material in any format, some formats are more suitable to long-term digital preservation than others. When possible, the Archives advises that openly documented, widely adopted, and uncompressed formats are used to ensure the long-term viability and access of the digital content. Please see the format recommendation guide for help in choosing the most open and long-term sustainable formats.
  • Redundant replication: The digital preservation field has found that replication largely mitigates the risk of data loss. LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe), software developed out of Stanford University, has proved to be a sustainable approach to long-term and cost-effective preservation. Purdue Libraries is a member of the MetaArchive Cooperative, a peer-to-peer Private LOCKSS Network which utilizes replication and geographical distribution as a preservation strategy.
  • Metadata: Digital objects are not just the textual or visual information rendered on the screen but rather contain a whole layer of valuable information unseen to the average viewer. Metadata, or data about data, is encoded information which may note anything from the object’s creation date to the version of the creating software. Capturing and preserving this data is vitally important to generating accessible copies of the object for years to come.