Digital Preservation Implementation Framework for the Mansfield Library

Last Updated: July 12, 2019

Last Updated By: Erin Baucom, Digital Archivist, University of Montana


Digital preservation is a process that keeps digital objects authentic and accessible. Digital preservation is not a onetime effort, instead it is an iterative series of actions that take place over time. A successful digital preservation strategy maintains and makes available to users an authentic copy of the original digital object. To maintain access to the content of a digital object, it may be necessary to transform a copy of the original digital object from its original file format to a new stable format. These transformations will be documented so that users are aware of the change.


The Mansfield Library commits to the long-term preservation and access of selected digital resources, whether born-digital or digitized. The development of a sustainable digital preservation program that adheres to professional standards and best practices is the best opportunity for the Library to succeed in providing long-term access to its digital content. This document provides a framework for developing digital preservation workflows and making decisions about where and how many of the Library’s limited resources will be used in digital preservation efforts.


The objectives of this implementation framework are to:

  • Identify at what level digital resources will be preserved
  • Maintain access to reliable data at the bitstream level and access to the contextual and intellectual meaning of the digital content
  • Provide users with access to digital content
  • Comply with prevailing community standards for digital preservation and access
  • Seek, expand and develop digital preservation methods that are appropriate for the University of Montana


This framework applies to all digital content that is selected for preservation according to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library’s Collection Development Policy. The Library retains the right to refuse to acquire or preserve digital content that exceed or strain the Library’s resources to manage.


This framework applies to all digital content that is selected for preservation according to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library’s Collection Development Policy. The Library retains the right to refuse to acquire or preserve digital content that exceed or strain the Library’s resources to manage.

Preservation Strategies:

Support Levels

The following guidelines describe the broad levels of preservation support the Library will use in preservation decision-making and implementation. The decision to carry out a specific support level and preservation strategy is guided by a number of criteria, including enduring value, relative risk of loss, feasibility, and cost of preservation.

Level 1 – Full Support

The Library will take all reasonable actions to maintain the content, structure, and functionality of the digital content into the future. This support level is currently provided only for file formats that are both publicly documented and widely used, making it more likely that tools will exist or be developed to undertake preservation actions for the content formats, and that those actions will result in an understood and controlled transformation or migration. The content may also be normalized (transformed to another stable format), migrated, or emulated to provide additional assurance that the information content of the digital object is preserved. The entire digital object will also be preserved as originally deposited to ensure the original bitstream is always available. The Library will ensure full access and data fixity.

Level 2 – Limited Support

The Library will take limited steps to maintain usability of the digital content. These steps may include actively transforming the content from one format to another to mitigate format obsolescence. The content may also be transformed to a preservation format to ensure that the information is not lost, even if some structure and functionality of the original content are sacrificed. The Library will ensure basic access and data fixity.

Level 3 – Basic Support

The Library will provide basic preservation of the digital object’s bitstream and associated metadata as-is with no active effort made to monitor the formats and associated risks or to normalize, transform, or migrate the content to another format. Files may be opened by future applications, but there is no guarantee that the information, structure, or functionality will be preserved. This support level usually applies to content written in highly specialized, proprietary formats, often usable only in a single software environment, to formats no longer widely utilized, and/or to formats about which little information is publicly available. The Library will ensure data fixity.

Life Cycle Model

All digital objects will be managed using the life cycle model approach. Digital preservation planning and actions are performed at every stage of this life cycle to support long-term access.


The creation of digital objects in the Library, should include the creation and/or capture of administrative, technical, descriptive, and structural metadata about those digital objects. Current standards and best practices for the digital conversion of analog materials will be followed.


Selection and acquisition of digital objects is carried out in reference to the criteria and priorities outlined within the Library’s Collection Development Policy. Digital content that is selected for the Archives and Special Collections is intended for permanent retention, unless explicitly stated otherwise.


Ingest of digital objects will be guided by local ingest procedures which may include transfer to the Library, verification and validation, normalization, creation or quality control of metadata, and transfer of objects and metadata to a long-term storage system. These local ingest procedures will be guided by digital preservation standards and best practices.


Digital objects must be stored in a manner that is consistent with accepted best practices in the digital preservation community. This includes both technological infrastructure (hardware, software, network access, data backup, facilities, maintenance, etc.) and ongoing preservation management activities. Best practice in digital preservation storage currently requires maintaining digital objects in both local systems and geographically distributed systems as well as on different models of server systems.

Training and Education

Workshops, online resources, and individual consultations will be offered to the University of Montana community to try to instill digital preservation best practices in content creators who will eventually donate/submit materials to be preserved by the Mansfield Library.

Preservation Management

Multiple preservation actions will be performed on digital objects prior to and during long-term storage. Procedures for each preservation support level will guide these actions. Possible actions may include:

  • Content and metadata validation
  • Bit-level integrity monitoring
  • Migration
  • Emulation
  • Media refreshment
  • Technology monitoring
Access and Use

Digital resources will be managed to ensure future discoverability and access. The Library will maintain information regarding rights and permissions governing access and maintain a persistent and reliable access location for digital resources unless those digital resources are restricted.


Digital resources are subject to review and disposal as needed, based on collection development policies.


Standards and Best Practices:

ISO14271 – Open Archival Information System (OAIS)

ISO 16363 – Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR)

PREMIS – Preservation Metadata Data Dictionary

METS – Metadata Encoding Transmission Standard

National Digital Stewardship Alliance - Levels of Preservation


Access: The processes for the retrieval of data and information from storage media, through the use of catalogs, indexes, and/or other tools.

Bit-Level Preservation: Bit-level preservation is a minimum digital preservation standard; the goal is to maintain the integrity of the original bitstream of a digital object.

Bitstream: data in its binary form.