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Digital Preservation Survey Report Download PDF

Background and objectives

The IUB Libraries Digital Preservation Policy Framework Task Force (DPPFTF) conducted a survey in Spring 2016 to learn the views of Libraries’ staff about IUBL digital preservation activities. The objective of the survey was to inform the development of a strategic plan for digital preservation, a preparatory step toward the adoption of a digital preservation policy for the IUB Libraries.

A Qualtrics-based survey was used to solicit staff views about

  1. the Libraries’ current digital preservation practices and needs for development overall;
  2. the specific needs and challenges in their own work areas; and
  3. the characteristics and discoverability of digital content for which they are responsible. There were 19 complete responses representing acquisitions, administration, archives, audio-visual media, cataloging and metadata specialists, circulation, collection managers, digital collections, intellectual property, library technologies, preservation, and web management.

Overiew of Findings

  • In ranking the Libraries’ digital preservation capacity in key areas, respondents perceived that staffing, policies, financial resources, and information sharing are all areas that need attention. Respondents thought that the Libraries were best prepared in technical expertise and infrastructure.
  • When asked about their own priorities for IU, respondents expressed the need for procedures, collaboration, and information sharing. Many also identified the need for additional staffing and clearly defined policies.
  • The greatest challenges for respondents in managing their digital content were wide ranging. The challenges identified most were metadata, training, and expertise, and the amount of dedicated staff) mentioned most often. Also mentioned were concerns about lack of procedures, obsolesence, and siloing.
  • Responses to the questions about the characteristics of digital collections indicate a diverse array of materials in digital form, with most reporting holdings of digitized library collections, unique born-digital content, and content on disks, CDs and other non-networked and legacy formats.


1. Current digital preservation capacity and need for development

Among the areas of staffing, financial support, policies, information sharing, repository infrastructure, and storage architecture, respondents thought the Libraries were least prepared in terms of staffing, policies, financial resources, and information sharing.

How prepared do you think the institution currently is in digital preservation?


2, Specific needs and challenges from the perspective of respondents’ work areas

Responses to questions about the needs of specific departments and functions were wide-ranging, but coalesced around the need for 1) established, well-promulgated procedures, and 2) collaboration and information sharing (perhaps two ways of saying the same thing). Staffing and policies were also high priorities for respondents’ own work areas. The following table contains the free-text responses, with each row representing one person’s responses. Color-coding indicates the prevalence of particular themes. 

What are your top priorities for IU in terms of digital preservation in the next five years?

Key / no. of responses by topic

What are the biggest challenges to managing your digital content?

Responses were quite varied, but the challenges that were identified often related to metadata and staffing (expertise as well as amount of dedicated staff). Also identified were concerns about lack of procedures, obsolesence, and siloing.

  • Lack of technical expertise on Archives staff and time to focus on it; need a records manager and digital archivist who can work with DCS staff to develop proper workflows and structures.
  • Figuring out whom to talk to about what, what the process is; having to get special permissions to create new Archive-it collections; Archive-it is incredibly time-consuming and therefore the collection is growing very slowly.
  • A mixture of metadata concerns and intellectual property concerns (the latter especially on the Scholarly Communication side of things).
  • Hidden digital collections (a lot coming through MDPI is uncataloged so the only people that will know what is there are the collection managers). Also, poor quality techniques applied in the past, and other problematic digitization (such as partial digitization of an item).
  • Variations system is getting old and will soon be replaced by Avalon/Media Collections Online (and we don't really feel prepared for the shift); inadequate staff to manage the files coming back from MDPI for use in our digital collections
  • Inventorying what we have. Creating a workflow that goes beyond recording data in a spreadsheet and uploading the files to the SDA (e.g., We're not doing anything to extract the technical metadata, build Fedora instantiations, Tarballs, etc.) and it's unclear how we'd piggy back off what's being built through MDPI for born-digital.
  • The multiple iterations of the analog copy once it is digitized, as mentioned in previous comment.
  • Enough staff to do metadata, digitization, quality control.
  • Too many siloed systems/workflows
  • Description and legacy formats

3. Characteristics and discoverability of IUBL digital collections

What sorts of digital content do you manage?

Responses indicated that current holdings are about equal among image (9), text (8), audio-visual (8), and web (8) content types. Other content types listed were PowerPoint, emails, spreadsheets, electronic press kits, hard drives, and research data sets. 


Participants were also asked to describe the characteristics of their collections by selecting from nine categories. The following chart shows a wide range of characteristics.


Content Sources

The following table summarizes free-text responses to the question, “Please provide a basic description of your digital content.” Digital versions of library collections (10), unique born-digital materials (8), and CDs, disks, etc. (6) were the most frequent responses,



There were eleven “yes” and zero “no” answers to the question,Is your content discoverable? If so, where?” The free-text responses, however, indicate a more mixed picture.


Not all of it! But IUCAT, WorldCat, ArchiveGrid, ArchivesOnline, ICO, Archives Photographs Database, purpose-built sites (e.g., BoTrustees and BFC),

Most is on ArtStor

Through Archive-it, building departmental website

Portals built for each service, aggregators and indexing services as well, the library catalog

At least half is discoverable through IUCAT & WorldCat; A large portion is only discoverable through a card catalog that is inaccessible to the public; the rest remains unprocessed


Sort of - on collection spreadsheets. Our own institutional data on disk and tape and of recent events is not discoverable.

Partial in IUCat and Media Collections Online. Trying to get database for full cataloging.



Some born digital content can be accessed through Media Collections Online, but most of it is only discoverable through staff inquiry and accessible in-house.


  • WorldCat
  • ArchiveGrid
  • Archives Online
  • Archives Photographs Database
  • Bo Trustees
  • BFC
  • ArtStor
  • Media Collections Online
  • Disks and tape
  • Spreadsheets
  • No labels