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Today, Vicki, Patty, Mary Beth, Steve, Susan, Rebecca, and Molly sat in on the ASERL webinar Intro to Digital Preservation #1–Steps to Identify and Select Content, facilitated by Jody DeRidder, Head of Digital Services, University of Alabama Libraries. John Burger of ASERL said that more than 150 people were registered to listen in on this session. This is the first of three sessions on digital preservation.

The content of this webinar comes from the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Modules. This consist of 6 modules covering: identify, select, store, protect, manage and provide. The goal is to provide a collaborative network to enable us to work together and face the challenges ahead.

This Intro #1 covered the “Identify” and “Select” aspects of the 6 parts. In order to identify materials for digital preservation, DeRidder suggests identifying the scope of materials eligible by creating an inventory. She suggested that “good preservation decisions are based on an understanding of content to be preserved.” Content categories include institutional records, special collections, scholarly content, research data, web content, and digitized collections. She stressed that the content of these materials is more important than format, but the format may make preservation more of a challenge. An inventory should be simple in format that is general with reiterations that become more focused on details.Inventory results should be: documented, usable, available, scalable, current (incorporated into current workflows). Sorting by content and file type will help prioritize equipment, planning, and future priorities. The process of selecting involves these steps:review the potential digital content, define and apply selection criteria, document and preserve, implement. Thinking about the mission of the institution, the collection development policy, the priorities, the uniqueness will allow the selection process to conform with the rest of the institutional standards. DeRidder stressed that this process is facilitated by open communication and knowledge withe incoming collections and donors. Starting the dialog early with potential digital contributors will allow you to block any incoming materials that do not warrant digital preservation. In the case of materials that are already in one’s holdings, selection for digital preservation begs the questions:does it have value? fit your scope? can you do it?

This webinar focused on the importance of putting a structure in place with the right people, clear policies and procedures, and organization. Open communication with the digital curator will answer the questions :does the content have value? Does it fit your scope? Whereas a conversation with an IT person will allow you to know ifit is feasible for you to preserve the content? Or is it possible to make content available?

DeRidder made a clear outline of how to go about identifying and selecting materials for digital preservation, but the prospect of actually implementing these steps is daunting. I am looking forward to the next to two webinars.