Digital Preservation Policy

Last updated March 3, 2020 


Binghamton University Libraries’ regard digital preservation as a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary.

As an institution of higher education, the Libraries’ are motivated to pursue digital preservation initiatives in order to: 

  1. support scholarship and research by ensuring long term preservation of digital resources owned or created by the libraries
  2. preserve university records required for legal obligations and/or that document the history of the university
  3. adhere to grant obligations and consortial commitments  

This policy outlines the Libraries’ objectives and strategies with regard to digital preservation and specifies roles and responsibilities in this area. The policy is subject to change as new and emerging technologies impact the ability to preserve digital content.

Digital Preservation Objectives

The purpose of the Binghamton University Libraries’ digital preservation program is to preserve digital and digitized resources that are deemed to be of value to the Libraries and to the University.  Some specific objectives are to:    

  • identify, evaluate, and triage digital resources that need to be preserved due to risks associated with obsolete file formats, bit-rot, deterioration, etc. and evaluate the level of digital preservation that may be required
  • ensure data integrity with regular audits
  • provide access, when applicable, to preserved digital materials through public interfaces
  • advocate for the importance of digital preservation with all campus stakeholders
  • adhere to digital preservation best practices and standards in practical, incremental, and sustainable ways
  • seek to leverage partnerships and collaborations to advance and enrich digital preservation

Roles and Responsibilities

The overall responsibility for the digital preservation program rests with the Digital Preservation Committee. The committee works closely with the Dean of Libraries, library administrators, faculty, and library staff.  In brief, the Digital Preservation Committee helps define digital preservation strategies, policies, and best practices, and helps facilitate digital preservation actions.  In addition, the committee also advocates for digital preservation actions through a dedicated budget, availability of skilled faculty/staff, and continued support from the library administration.      

Individuals both within and external to the Libraries who may serve on the Digital Preservation Committee or at times, play a role in digital preservation through task forces or as consultants.  These include:   

  • Digital Initiatives
  • IT
  • Special Collections
  • Preservation
  • Metadata specialists who describe digital resources according to best practices
  • Creators or donors of digital resources
  • Digitization specialists who digitize or migrate digital resources
  • Subject specialists who may assist with selecting, acquiring, appraising, managing, and curating  
  • Technology specialists who assist with digital preservation hardware and software 


The Libraries’ collect digital resources in accordance with its digital collection development policy. These items may be born digital or were converted to digital formats.  Examples of digital resources collected by the Libraries’ include:

  • Binghamton University Libraries’ created born digital and digitized objects
  • Archival material related to Binghamton University and the local area
  • Binghamton University publications such as campus news and departmental publications, and photographs
  • Binghamton University departmental and administrative records of legal, fiscal, administrative, and/or enduring historical value
  • Digital resources collected by Binghamton University Library unlikely to exist elsewhere

Content Types

The Binghamton University Libraries may preserve digital resources of varying types, each which requires different preservation strategies. The Libraries will attempt to adhere to best practices of choosing stable file formats most suited to long-term preservation. For example, TIFFs or JPEGs for images, WAV or MP3s for sound recording, and PDFs for documents.  Preservation strategies will be developed to accommodate new formats as needed.

Preservation Strategies

Digital preservation actions are generally prioritized based on the following criteria:  

  1. Use (e.g. items that are of interest to scholars)
  2. At risk items (e.g. audio/visual)
  3. Value (e.g. unique items and those important to the institution)

The ability to commit staff time and have the appropriate expertise and technology significantly impacts what the Libraries can accomplish with regard to digital preservation.  As such, while a resource may be prioritized for digital preservation it may fall into one of the three areas:     

  1. No preservation action - no preservation actions have been made to the digital resource
  2. Minimal preservation action - some effort has been made to preserve the digital resource.  This may include a back-up, creation of preservation metadata, and ingestion into the digital preservation system.   
  3. High level of preservation action - effort has been made to ensure the long term preservation of the object. Available resources (e.g. staff, technologies, funding) have been devoted to preserving the resource.  In addition to level 2 efforts, strategies here may include migration, emulation, normalization, and the development of material-specific solutions. 

Digital resources are subject to periodic reappraisal and may be considered for deaccession. Any deaccessioning in the preservation repository will be guided by the disposition of access copies, and will be carried out in a transparent and well-documented fashion, taking care to avoid any procedures that contradict the Libraries’ reputation for responsible stewardship.

Implementation of Policy

Implementation of this policy is contingent upon the support of the Libraries’ administration and staff, the availability of staff, the adoption of standards, and the development of best practice and procedures.This policy and the actions that flow from it will be evaluated regularly to ensure that implemented strategies continue to support the Libraries’ mission and policies, use resources in a cost-effective manner, and adapt appropriately to address evolving technologies. This evaluation will be completed at least once every three years.


The following digital preservation policies were consulted, many of which served as inspiration for the creation of this policy.