SafeArchive Promises to Preserve Digital Collections

By Thu-Mai Christian, Graduate Research Assistant
H. W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science

Given growing attention to issues in digital preservation, including that from institutions, funding agencies, and other stakeholders, new technologies to help mitigate risks to digital content are finding themselves at the forefront of librarians’ and archivists’ minds.

Here at the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with Data-PASS partners at Harvard University, the Inter-university Consortium of Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan, the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, we have been working hard to develop the IMLS-funded SafeArchive system to ensure that digital collections are preserved for long-term access and use.

SafeArchive Logo

SafeArchive also monitors copies of content in geographically distributed locations for possible corruption or loss, a prerequisite for trustworthy status according to metrics in the Standard for Trusted Digital Repositories, which was just released this year.

The SafeArchive system is an open-source system for automatic policy-based collaborative archival replication. It automates high-level replication policies and helps institutions to collaborate in efforts to preserve digital content. Using GUI-based tools designed for librarians and archivists, SafeArchive coordinates and audits existing groups of public or private LOCKSS  (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) peers. Together, collaborating institutions establish policies regarding the number of copies to be generated, how often copies are checked for integrity, where copies should be maintained, how much storage space each institution should supply to the network, and other parameters that govern replication of content. SafeArchive then monitors the network to ensure that policies are met and that each institution’s collections are safe and sound.

Recently, the SafeArchive partners hosted a workshop at the IASSIST (International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology) 38th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The workshop attracted library and archives professionals from all over the world including Japan, Australia, Canada, and Finland. Using Amazon Web Services, students were able to launch their own Amazon Machine Instance of the SafeArchive System to create preservation policies and generate audit and operational reports for a LOCKSS test network.

For our workshop attendees, as well as other professionals seeking ways to safeguard their content, we hope that the SafeArchive will become another tool in the digital preservation toolkit for libraries and archives.

To learn more about the SafeArchive and ways to protect your digital collection, please visit our website.

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