OSU Libraries Digital Preservation Policy

Digital Preservation Policy


 In keeping with its mission, Oregon State University Libraries & Press (hereafter, OSULP) serves as a trusted caretaker of digital resources of distinction and enduring value. The Digital Preservation Policy supports this mission and is the highest level digital preservation policy document at OSULP. The Policy makes explicit OSULP's commitment to preserving its digital resources through a comprehensive digital preservation program. The policy contains references to other relevant OSULP policies and procedures and reflects values in OSULP's current Strategic Plan, particularly Goal 4, which is to Practice Active, Respectful Stewardship of the cultural and intellectual output of our communities.

This policy is subject to change as technologies and standards evolve.


 The primary purpose of digital stewardship and preservation is to preserve the intellectual and cultural heritage important to Oregon State University, while at the same time making sure that it is accessible and held in trust for future use. The specific objectives of OSULP's digital preservation program are to:

  • Identify resources that are unique to OSULP and support the continued intellectual, cultural, and social development of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
  • Protect OSULP's digital objects through a fully-implemented digital preservation program
  • Demonstrate organizational commitment through the identification of sustainable strategies
  • Comply with accepted community standards for digital preservation and access
  • Contribute to the development of the standards and practice of the digital preservation community
  • Meet legal, contractual, and membership service obligations (Orbis Cascade Alliance, Greater Western Library Alliance, etc.) to collect, preserve, and provide access to the university's historical collections and institutional and scholarly records.


This policy addresses all aspects of preservation of digital resources for which OSULP is the primary custodian and applies to digital materials held by OSULP. Not all of the digital content that OSULP creates or acquires will be preserved in perpetuity. Our program will assess candidates for digital preservation within budget limitations by using explicit criteria specified by OSULP's Digital Collections Policy and ScholarsArchive@OSU Collection Policy, and by following pertinent University records retention schedules. Details of digital preservation implementation will be outlined in implementation plans for specific types of digital content. Where an implementation plan does not exist for a type of content, an implementation plan will be created. Materials will be reviewed periodically, according to implementation plan guidelines, for continued inclusion in preservation activities.
OSULP commits to these classes of objects with associated preservation priorities and levels of commitment:

  • Born digital materials - Rigorous effort will be made to ensure preservation of material selected for preservation, both library resources and institutional records. This includes but is not limited to: digital photographs, datasets, ETDs, and electronic records.
  • Digitized materials (no available analog) - Rigorous effort will be made to preserve materials with no available print analog or when re-digitizing is not possible due to substantial levels of degradation and/or structural instability. For materials in this class, this is digitization as preservation as we will be relying upon these digital surrogate as the representation of this artifact. Also included are digitized materials that have annotations or other value-added features making them difficult or impossible to recreate. This includes but is not limited to: lost and/or damaged materials and at-risk materials such as audio/video tape, glass plate negatives, and nitrate negatives.
  • Digitized materials (available analog) – Reasonable measures will be taken to extend the life of the digital objects with a readily available print analog. However, the cost of re-digitizing as needed will be weighed against the cost of preserving the existing digital objects. This includes most properly stored and stable archival materials

Guiding Principles

The following principles will guide OSULP's digital preservation program. Practical fulfillment of these principles will be addressed in implementation plans or, where necessary, in an enterprise-wide implementation plan.

  • Comply with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model standard and other digital preservation standards and practices as they evolve.
  • Seek to conform to certification requirements for ISO Standard 16363 for Trusted Digital Repositories.
  • Adhere to prevailing standards and best practices for preserving access to digital content of long-term value so that it remains readable, meaningful, and understandable and where standards are not in place, OSULP should create local best practices.
  • Consider the preservation implications of any systems designed or implemented to manage digital content.
  • Commit to an interoperable, reliable, and scalable digital archival storage system.
  • Document policies, procedures, and practices openly, clearly, and consistently.
  • Maintain hardware, software, and storage media containing archival content in keeping with prevailing best practices, including adherence to environmental standards, quality control specifications, and security requirements.
  • Establish adequate and secure backup and disaster recovery safeguards.
  • Capture and maintain adequate technical, administrative, and descriptive metadata to document digital content and what is required to provide access to the content.
  • Seek to monitor threats to the accessibility of digital content.
  • Comply with intellectual property, copyright, and ownership rights for preservation of and access to all content.
  • Allocate adequate resources and infrastructure for sustained digital preservation.
  • Partner with parties within the university and external to the university to support the goals of the Digital Preservation Policy, to further develop our digital preservation system, and to serve the collective desire to preserve digital content.

Roles and Responsibilities

 Oversight of digital preservation is a shared responsibility of the heads of Emerging Technologies and Services and Special Collections and Archives Research Center. Those responsibilities are shared by OSULP staff directly involved with administering digital collections, as well as those responsible for the underlying technological infrastructure. Stakeholders in digital preservation include OSULP staff, users of OSULP collections, faculty, other university staff and outside partners who create digital content housed by OSULP.
This oversight includes:

  1. Call for review of policy and implementation plans
  2. Review of role in consortial/collaborative preservation space (e.g. MetaArchive)
  3. Stay abreast of changing landscape of best practices for digital preservation
  4. Review technical infrastructure condition and needs

Review Cycle

 This policy and the actions that flow from it will be evaluated regularly to ensure that implemented strategies continue to support the Library's mission and policies, use resources in a cost-effective manner, and adapt appropriately to address evolving technologies. The Digital Preservation Group will complete this evaluation at least once every three years.


There are recognized challenges in implementing an effective digital preservation program. Approaches to addressing some of these challenges will be addressed in implementation plans for the variety of content types, but some challenges presented here will require significant resourcing and collaboration with units across OSU and outside of our institution. These challenges include, but are not limited to:

Rapid growth: Technology that enables the variety of formats and dissemination mechanisms changes rapidly. As different types of materials are submitted (data sets, uncompressed video files), monitoring different needs (storage size, metadata, etc.) of the materials and maintaining procedures and policies based on these needs is necessary.
Sustainability: Developing a sustainable digital preservation model that will respond to technological and staffing changes as needed, without under or overestimating the needs imposed by these changes. OSULP requires sufficient funding for operations and major improvements for digital asset management, as well as designated library funding to sustain ongoing preservation efforts. The scale of funding is based on the level of commitment, therefore the program should reflect reasonable expectations of requisite resources, i.e., OSULP should not promise more than can be delivered.
Management: Moving from well-managed digital collections to preserved collections in the true sense of the term requires institutional effort, partnership development, and a financial commitment. OSULP should provide a thoughtful balance between access and preservation, while being mindful of preservation's core role in maintaining access.
Partnerships: OSULP must work with creators and providers of crucial content to employ appropriate maintenance prior to deposit that will facilitate future preservation.
Flexibility: The digital preservation plan must continually revise its abilities to respond to the evolving technological capabilities and changing user expectations without jeopardizing the ongoing care of the digital content.
Expertise: OSULP must commit to continually updating staff expertise, where appropriate, as technologies change.
Rights: There are a myriad of intellectual property and other rights-based constraints on providing access that impact digital preservation efforts.

Related Policies

Policy adopted: 11 September 2015
First revision: 15 March 2019
Revised: 13 April 2022