Digital Preservation

This document was created to describe the need and strategies for preserving the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Special Collections' digital assets. These digital preservation activities ensure that faculty, staff, students, and other users will have ongoing access to the Special Collections' expanding digital collections.


This policy provides a broad set of guidelines for digital preservation, from which procedures can be developed with confidence that they will meet accepted standards, make effective use of resources, and support the mission and goals of the Library. Objectives of the policy are to: 

  • Describe the challenges associated with digital preservation.
  • Explain why a digital preservation policy is necessary.
  • Outline principles on which digital preservation actions will be based.
  • Define the scope of digital preservation activities, including sources and types of digital content that will be preserved.
  • Describe specific preservation strategies that will be performed to ensure the long-term preservation of digital materials.

Content Sources

Special Collections selects, creates, and collects different types of digital resources, which are as follows:

  • Analog objects owned by UTC that are selected for digital conversion by Special Collections or a vendor.
  • Born-digital objects, publications, and data created by UTC.
  • Records created by UTC departments in the course of conducting business.

Special Collections is committed to the preservation of all of these digital resources throughout their life cycle and will develop the technical infrastructure to support the creation, maintenance, and access of digital materials for the long term.

Content Types

Each of the above content sources may present content in one or many of the following types, which may require different preservation strategies due to their varying attributes.

  • Texts
  • Still Images
  • Moving Images
  • Sound
  • Datasets

The University will likely acquire materials in additional formats in the future, and preservation strategies will be developed to accommodate new formats as needed.


The specific preservation actions used for Special Collections' digital resources will depend largely on the source and type of content, as well as existing technology, expertise, and ongoing support.  Resources created by or for and owned by UTC will be comprehensively managed using the life cycle model outlined below. Expectation is that all Library-owned resource content and associated metadata will be developed according to current standards and best practices, and stored in a long-term repository within the Library infrastructure or in a consortium-based repository system.

Life Cycle Management

Digital objects will be managed using the life cycle model described in the Digital Curation Centre's DCC Curation Lifecycle Model, which is a framework describing the stages that digital resources go through during their existence. The preservation of digital objects requires planning and action at every stage of an object’s lifecycle, including each of the following areas: 

  • Creation: As digital content is created, preservation actions should include creating and/or capturing administrative, descriptive, structural and technical metadata about the objects, as well as imposing a well-defined storage system. Content will be created following current standards and best practices for capture and formatting.
  • Selection: Selection for digital preservation will be done in coordination with current use, existing  collection development policies, and collaborative agreements, while addressing specific format needs and budgetary limitations. All preservation actions will be taken under the assumption that materials selected are intended for permanent retention unless explicitly stated otherwise.
  • Ingest: Ingest of materials into the collections will strictly follow local guidelines for ingest procedures. These guidelines will include delivery of content to the responsible department/personnel, verification of file types, validation of file content, normalization of files as needed, creation or enhancement of metadata according to standards set forth in local metadata policies, and transfer of data and metadata to an approved long-term storage system.
  • Metadata: All digital resources curated by Special Collections will adhere to the unit's metadata policies.
  • Storage: Digital resources must be stored in a manner that is consistent with accepted best practices in the digital preservation community. This will include both technical infrastructure (hardware, software, network access, data backup, facilities, maintenance, etc.) and ongoing preservation management activities. Best practice in digital preservation requires duplicating digital objects in both local systems and geographically removed systems. Special Collections accomplishes by partnering the the Library's IT unit to administer a secure, redundant local storage.
  • Preservation: A series of actions that will need to be performed on digital resources prior to and during long-term storage, at varying levels depending on the source and type of resource. Detailed procedures and workflows for preservation actions will be created and maintained. Possible preservation actions include, but are not limited to:
    • Content and metadata validation
    • Preservation audits
    • Ongoing file format review
    • Migration
    • Definition and monitoring of backup procedures
    • Maintenance of technical components such as hardware and software used for storage and access
  • Access and Use: Digital objects and collections will be reviewed and managed to ensure that files are accessible into the future. Digital objects will be discoverable: created in a way that they may be easily found by all stakeholders.
  • Transformation: digital resources may require periodic modification. Possible reasons for modification include: to support new developments in scholarly research capability, to function optimally in new delivery systems, and to prevent format, hardware, or software obsolescence. Types of modifications that may be performed include creating new content or metadata, adding content or metadata, migrating content to a new format, or creating a subset of content or metadata.
  • De-selection: Digital objects will be reviewed and disposed of as needed, based on collection development policies.