7.2 Approaches to Small Scale Digital Archiving

7.2.1 Funding and Technical Knowledge  It is quite possible to build a low cost digital preservation system, but this cannot be achieved without at least a small level of technical knowledge and some recurrent resources, albeit at a low level, to make it sustainable. Regardless of how simple or robust a system is, it must be managed and maintained, and it will need to be replaced at some time or risk losing the content it manages.  “Digital preservation is as much an economic issue as a technical one. The requirements of ongoing sustainability demand at their base a source of reliable funding, necessary to ensure that the constant, albeit potentially low level, support for the sustainability of the digital content and its supporting repositories, technologies and systems can be maintained for as long as it is required. Such constant funding is not at all typical of the many communities that build these digital collections, many of which tend to be grant funded on an episodic basis. There is therefore a need to develop costing models for sustainability of digital materials according to the specific requirements of the various classes of content, access and sustainability.” (Bradley 2004).  It is inevitable and unavoidable that the system and its hardware and software components will require maintenance and management which will demand both technical knowledge and dedicated funds. Any proposal to build and manage an archive of digital audio objects should have a strategy which includes plans for the funding of ongoing maintenance and replacement, and a listing of the risks associated with the loss of technical expertise and how that will be addressed.

7.2.2 Alternative Strategies  In the event that there is no adequate way to manage the risks described in the section above an archive may decide to continue with the preservation and digitisation of their collection to look to partnerships to manage the storage risks. An archive may choose to distribute the risk in a number of ways, including; by forming local partnerships so that content is distributed between a number of related collections; by establishing a relationship with a stable well funded archive; by engaging a commercial supplier of storage services (see Section 6.1.6 Long Term Planning).  To effectively take advantage of any of the approaches described it would be necessary to establish an agreement about what data and content would be exchanged between the partners, and the form it would take. This agreement should be established well before the need to take advantage of it might occur. An agreement about exchange packages would consider all the relevant information necessary to continue the archival role undertaken by an archive. This would include the data that makes up the audio object itself in its archival form, the technical metadata, descriptive metadata, the structural metadata, rights metadata, and the metadata created to record provenance and change history. It would need to be packaged in a standard form so that it could be used to recreate the archive if data was lost, or so that another archive could take up the role of managing content if that was deemed necessary.  The tools to produce such profiles exist using, for example, Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), a Library based approach that is widely used, are available.Whether this or other strategies are used, agreement about their form is critical to the success of the strategy.Whether this is used to support remote content replication or to support federation of cooperating archives, the agreement about standard form and exchange is a most effective preservation strategy, spreading the risk of failure, due to natural or man made disaster or just lack of resources at a critical time in the life-cycle of the digital audio object.