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The DigiCULT navigator to long-term preservation
"Digital preservation does not obviate the need for physical preservation. It accentuates it."
Kary Carp, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, DigiCULT ERT, Stockholm, June 14, 2001
As ever shorter technological innovation cycles replace existing technologies at a breath-
taking pace of 2-5 years, the urgency to address long-term preservation to avoid the inevi-
table loss of our cultural heritage becomes ever more pressing.
Current methods of long-term preservation such as technology preservation, migration
and emulation are regarded as insufficient methods to preserve digital objects over the long-
term. In fact, they are considered short-term solutions to long-term problems.To make
things worse, experts do not see any rapid technical solution to the problem in sight.
Yet, for cultural heritage institutions to take a "sit back and wait" approach until the
whole scene has settled down and the results of research are known, would be the wrong
strategy. Instead, they should develop sound principles and policies for the creation and
acquisition of digital material that will help them to provide those materials with a
significantly improved chance of survival.
Given the urgency of the problem, immediate action from all stakeholders at various
levels is required.
National governments and regional authorities need to take immediate action
on long-term preservation and formulate a strategy for digital preservation as
part of a national information policy. The strategy should involve setting up a
network of certified organisations to archive and preserve digital cultural
A national preservation policy should include a clear idea on who should be responsible for
the preservation of digital cultural heritage in the future. As digital preservation is a costly
undertaking that requires great expertise, we recommend the establishment of a network of
certified organisations that take care of different types of material.These organisations
should closely co-operate at the national and international level and actively seek to
participate in Research & Development trials to foster documentation and information
exchange for guidelines.These organisations should also monitor all relevant developments
in the digital preservation area. Features of such certified trustworthiness could include:
experience in digital archiving, participation in R&D activities, organisational stability and
The European Commission should support Research & Development in the
following areas:
long-term preservation strategies for complex digital cultural heritage resources, i.e.
immersive environments, multimedia and rich, highly interactive applications,
including the creation of a repository of preservation guidelines for different media
types, showing migration paths for different materials,
best practice cases in emulation as a long-term preservation strategy, including the
above mentioned media types.