LOCKSS Perspectives on the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation

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In 2013, a team of librarians, archivists, curators, engineers, and other technologists workshopped then published the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation, a resource outlining high-level, progressive enhancements in digital preservation practices across a number of dimensions. A naïve review of its application in the intervening time suggests that it is regarded as a legitimate assessment and planning tool, and a foundation upon which to articulate new and/or improved preservation best practices.

In April 2018, the NDSA Coordinating Committee launched an effort, now underway in the form of the "Levels Reboot" to update and establish a process for continuing to update the guidelines. Responding to the survey in the kick-off solicitation to community mailing lists, the LOCKSS Program expressed interest in providing feedback in a number of areas, which we’ve gone ahead and outlined below:

Storage and Geographic Location

File Fixity and Data Integrity

Considering the NDSA Levels of Preservation overall, the activities associated with each level become progressively more resource-intensive. In the context of preservation planning, though, it's important to recognize that resources aren't just a constraint on the level of preservation that can be achieved; they also limit the amount of content that can be preserved, and these two axes of preservation trade off with one another. Deliberately cleaving to a lower level of preservation on some dimensions may be an optimum strategy for assuring that more content be subject to at least a base level of protection. This makes sense given that the greatest source of content loss is the failure to archive it in the first place.

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