The Digital Preservation Coalition was established in 2001. It is a UK-based non-profit whose members share the goal of raising awareness and sharing knowledge about digital preservation. I think their first success in achieving this goal was to create an international organization of members.
Membership is open to all parties, given that they are non-profit or collective. There are different tiers of involvement in which members can participate, from being a funding supporter of a specific project to full membership, which costs 10,000 GB pounds/year. A list of members can be found here.
Reading through the mission of the DPC is like looking at a hit-list of many of the key issues of digital preservation efforts. Primarily, it is easy to appreciate that the DPC recognizes the necessity of collaboration in an effective digital preservation strategy by openly stating the very harrowing admission that no organization can “address all the challenges alone.” Sharing progress and ideas is fundamental to this effort. But the DPC also encourages individual projects done by members in order to promote more homegrown institutional and sector-level preservation practices and policies.
My favorite part of their mission is this:
“Instituting a concerted and co-ordinated effort to get digital preservation on the agenda of key stakeholders in terms that they will understand and find persuasive.”
I’m glad that someone has taken this part of the digital preservation process to the battlegrounds. No matter how well-planned and coordinated any digital preservation project may be, they all need funding. And funding will probably have to come from parties that have not thought of or even necessarily heard of digital preservation and its importance. Explaining the process and need is really Step 1 in any successful attempt to secure support and funding.
In general, I would think that digital preservation efforts are at an advantage for getting funding because once its goals are understood, it would be difficult for a truly invested stakeholder to overlook its relevance. The DPC has really addressed connecting the dots between the people involved in digital preservation projects and the people who need to support these efforts in this part of their mission statement.
What the DPC Does
The DPC produces and shares information regarding research and practice within the digital preservation community. They also work on promoting technology and standards, including coordinating recommendations for the 5-year review of the OAIS standard. There is a clearly defined list of other goals and objectives here.
Their website is a comprehensive hub for their reports and activities, and also lists the projects of its members – arranged by type. You will also find various training opportunities and a quarterly newsletter produced in concert with PADI.
The DPC also administers the international Digital Preservation Award.
What I think is probably their magnum opus up to this point is their Handbook.
This incredibly useful handbook is maintained by the DPC. It goes far beyond the OAIS model guidelines by including more information and concepts, as well as information about selecting materials. The handbook is meant to be “of interest to all those involved in the creation and management of digital materials,” and I think it really is. A brief look at it will show you:
- A who, what, why, how overview of digital preservation
- A glossary of definitions and concepts
- A run-down of media storage formats
- Preservation strategies at the institutional level
- Organizational, workflow, and institutional collaboration strategies
- Acquisition and selection guidelines with an incredible supplementary flow chart for selecting materials
One final note I’d like to make regards the UK-centric view their mission proclaims this organization has. This is an organization comprised of international members who are all making strides together in preserving global digital artifacts. I think that just because the DPC is based in the UK, and it aims to place UK digital preservation strategies into an international context, we all stand to benefit from it as a resource and organization. One shouldn’t be deterred from participating or from using what the DPC has to offer for this reason!