What is Digital Preservation?
‘Digital preservation is the active management of digital content over time to ensure its ongoing access.’ (Library of Congress)
Digital content is fragile: file formats can change, technologies change, websites can be taken down, user needs evolve, and hardware can become obsolete. Without active management, digital content is at risk of becoming inaccessible due to factors like format obsolescence, media failure, or barriers to discoverability. The ultimate aim of digital preservation is to provide sustained access by reducing risks to digital content.
The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) was built to provide long-term preservation, access and, discovery for Ireland’s social and cultural data, and while that continues to be our core function as an infrastructure, DRI’s contributions to the wider fields of preservation, archiving, and data management have become a central part of how we ensure best practice in the provision of that infrastructure. Broadly serving the sectors of research and culture, DRI actively contributes to policy formation, advocacy, professional knowledge transfer, community building, and solutions-based working groups at the national and international levels.
What We Do
The DRI is a Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) that provides reliable, long-term access to digital content. It is certified by the Core Trust Seal, ensuring that it reflects the core characteristics of trustworthy data repositories. DRI is also a signatory of the TRUST Principles for digital repositories, which provide a common framework to facilitate discussion and implementation of best practice in digital preservation by all stakeholders. DRI provides stewardship of social and cultural data (social sciences, arts, humanities, cultural heritage) from a range of organisations including higher education institutions, cultural heritage institutions (the GLAM sector of galleries, libraries, archives and museums), government agencies, county councils, and community archives.
We ensure active management of digital content for long-term preservation and access by:
- Aligning the Repository and organisation with the OAIS Reference Model
- Use of the Ceph Storage System supporting data scrubbing, checksums, replication and erasure coding
- An Archival Information Package (AIP) format supporting manifests and checksums
- External data integrity checks to ensure all data remains intact
- Backup procedures to ensure that recovery is possible in the event of failures
- Appropriate security measures to ensure that data cannot be accessed or modified by unauthorised persons
- Versioning of objects and tracking of all changes, as well as ongoing audit of changes made to the metadata or data assets of objects
- A regular File Format Review to identify content stored in at-risk file formats, and recommend remedial actions such as migration or emulation
- Enabling the FAIR principles through our architecture, use of persistent identifiers, machine-actionability and metadata guidelines.
- Encouraging depositors to provide rich and detailed metadata and contextual information to ensure that data will remain understandable in the future
- A clear policy on data withdrawal and how a depositor may retrieve and migrate their data if the DRI were to cease functioning
- Minting of persistent identifiers (PIDs) in the form of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) via DataCite for all objects in the Repository
- Maintaining an active role in professional associations such as the Digital Preservation Coalition, the Archives and Records Association, DARIAH, and the Research Data Alliance
For more information see the DRI Preservation Policy.
The DRI also advocates for best practice in digital archiving and preservation and runs educational events for Irish institutes to help them understand the importance of digital preservation and how it can be achieved. You can access past outreach events and training videos in the DRI Video Content Collection.
You can access many more useful reports, guidelines, and factsheets related to best practices for digital preservation in the DRI Publications collection.