Agenda item

Review of Digital Preservation Policy

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)


The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) regarding the outcome of a review of the Digital Preservation Policy which had recently been undertaken.


The Archive Service had developed their first Digital Preservation Policy in 2007 and a review had been undertaken in 2013 in preparation for the Archive Service’s Accreditation assessment. Feedback from the assessment had included comments regarding the size of ‘born digital’ holdings, which were said to be ‘very small’. In addition, whilst relations between Council officers and the Records Management and Information Governance Teams were good, the transfer of born digital content from Councils to archives remained ‘underdeveloped’. The new policy therefore aimed to address this feedback and ensure digital preservation continued to develop within the Service.


The Archives Service were a member of Archives West Midlands (AWM), a regional strategic partnership, which sought to maximise the benefits of joint working in this area. AWM had recently delivered two projects aimed at supporting Members to develop digital preservation. One of these projects had involved the development of a Digital Preservation Policy and Guidance templates which would be used to inform the Service’s policy.


The 2018 review of the Archive Service Accreditation standard had included more ambitious requirements for the preservation of digital archives and the need to self assess against the National Stewardship Digital Alliance (NSDA) levels of digital preservation. AWM had also pledged to support their Members achieve Level One of this standard.


Self-assessment against the NSDA Level One elements had revealed that the Service had passed five; failed one and a further three were incomplete. This meant that the Service were not currently compliant. Therefore, the following key actions had been identified to enable the Service achieve the required standard:-


  • An immediate full audit of all media and digital holdings across the whole service;
  • A review of the Terms of Deposit;
  • Train staff in the use of tools to generate checksums to detect errors in deposited  material;
  • Trial archiving signed Authority minutes in digital format;
  • Continue the good progress made between 2009 and 2011 in implementing digital archiving;
  • Procure a stand-alone digital preservation system to enable consistent secure access to digital collections.



With regard to procurement of the required Digital Preservation System, AWM had tested the Archivematica open source and Preservica commercially available systems, both of which had the ability to process and store digital archives securely. Consultation with Staffordshire ICT had suggested that the Preservica system was preferable owing to an absence of staffing resources necessary to customise the Archivematica system.


An opportunity had arisen for the Service to join a Local Authority consortium, headed by Dorset County Council, to acquire the Preservica system at a cost of £4,769 per annum per authority. West Sussex County Council, Wilshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council were also members and a further three Authorities were due to join in April 2019.


During the discussion which ensued Members expressed their support for the proposed revisions to the Digital Preservation Policy and development of the Service’s digital storage capacity as a means of achieving additional financial savings.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the revised Digital Preservation Policy be approved.


(c) That a business case to identify funding for the procurement of a Digital Preservation System be developed.


(d) That the Joint Archive Service join the Dorset led Local Authority Digital Preservation Consortium for the procurement of the Perservica Digital Preservation System.                            

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