Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation System

The UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, with the support of the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories, has published Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation System: Recommendations on the Implementation of an Open Source Digital Archival and Preservation System and on Related Software Development.

Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary and Recommendations:

This report defines the requirements for a digital archival and preservation system using standard hardware and describes a set of open source software which could used to implement it. There are two aspects of this report that distinguish it from other approaches. One is the complete or holistic approach to digital preservation. The report recognises that a functioning preservation system must consider all aspects of a digital repositories; Ingest, Access, Administration, Data Management, Preservation Planning and Archival Storage, including storage media and management software. Secondly, the report argues that, for simple digital objects, the solution to digital preservation is relatively well understood, and that what is needed are affordable tools, technology and training in using those systems.

An assumption of the report is that there is no ultimate, permanent storage media, nor will there be in the foreseeable future. It is instead necessary to design systems to manage the inevitable change from system to system. The aim and emphasis in digital preservation is to build sustainable systems rather than permanent carriers. . . .

The way open source communities, providers and distributors achieve their aims provides a model on how a sustainable archival system might work, be sustained, be upgraded and be developed as required. Similarly, many cultural institutions, archives and higher education institutions are participating in the open source software communities to influence the direction of the development of those softwares to their advantage, and ultimately to the advantage of the whole sector.

A fundamental finding of this report is that a simple, sustainable system that provides strategies to manage all the identified functions for digital preservation is necessary. It also finds that for simple discrete digital objects this is nearly possible. This report recommends that UNESCO supports the aggregation and development of an open source archival system, building on, and drawing together existing open source programs.

This report also recommends that UNESCO participates through its various committees, in open source software development on behalf of the countries, communities, and cultural institutions, who would benefit from a simple, yet sustainable, digital archival and preservation system. . . .