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Exploring Digital Preservation Solutions Appropriate for Small and Medium-sized College, University, and Research Libraries

While many larger institutions have made considerable headway on digital preservation, many medium-and smaller-sized institutions have struggled to make similar progress, largely due to a lack of economy of scale. This project will investigate, evaluate, and, at its close, recommend scalable, sustainable digital preservation solutions for libraries with smaller amounts of data and/or fewer resources. Working closely with nationally recognized standards-based vendors of digital preservation solutions, we will also investigate potential business models that would provide equitable access to digital preservation to libraries of all sizes.

Proposed activities:

Project Year One

1) Establish grant administration measures at Northern Illinois University. Conduct a national search and hire a project coordinator as described in project proposal and budget. Hire project graduate assistant at Northern Illinois University.

2) Form an advisory board to help shape, oversee and direct the project. In addition to the representatives from our original partner institutions, who will be providing their time and expertise as part of their cost share, we expect to select 6 expert advisory board members. They will include expert consultants, such as selected campus directors of information technology and representatives of relevant associations, representing a variety of types of small colleges and universities across the country, selected in coordination with IMLS.

3) Convene initial meeting of project Advisory Board in DeKalb, Illinois. Consult and review project goals and budget with Advisory Board. Develop guidelines for how options will be critiqued for possible further testing and evaluation. After initial meeting, the Advisory Board will hold conference calls as needed to keep the project moving.

4) The Advisory Board will draw upon input (via conference call or VOIP) from nationally- representative scholars/faculty, from diverse locations and disciplines, to ensure that we take into account faculty needs for creating and using content that is intended to be preserved.

5) Conduct an environmental scan of options, tools, and services available to small and medium- sized academic libraries, including virtualized or cloud-based services such as DuraCloud.

6) Select three or four tools and/or services to be subjects of project evaluation. We have preliminarily budgeted for trial periods of MetaArchive, DuraCloud, and LOCKSS. Should the advisory board determine through the environmental scan that there is another service that would offer a viable alternative, it will also be given appropriate consideration. The project will also discuss viable methods for bringing smaller and medium-sized institutions into the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.

7) Contact representatives of selected service providers to negotiate terms of service and discuss technical infrastructure required at Northern Illinois University to install effective pilot implementations.

8) Consult with experts and service providers to design pilot implementations of selected tools/services.

9) Purchase equipment on which project pilot instances are to be installed and tested.

10) Project staff members at Northern Illinois University install and maintain pilot implementations, creating detailed documentation of work processes.

11) Begin selection of digital objects from partner/participating institutions, to be used in testing and evaluation of selected tools/services. Establish internal wiki space for Advisory Board and project partner discussions of testing issues.

12) Begin formative evaluation activities, which will continue until the end of the grant period.

13) Keep the public and other institutions apprised of our progress on this project through a project blog, website, and possibly other social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

14) Submit year-end progress report to IMLS for review.

Project Year Two

1) Convene meeting(s) of Advisory Board. Evaluate merits and drawbacks of various pilot instances in preparation for final reporting.

2) Continue formative evaluation activities.

3) Develop evaluative framework for testing and evaluation of pilot instances of tools and services. Begin formal testing and evaluation according to developed guidelines of pilot instances of selected tools/services using a wide variety of selected digital objects from partner/participant institutions.

4) Advisory Board members and project staff share their impressions of testing results and implementation issues with each other and IMLS via conference calls and/or the project wiki.

5) Continue working with selected service providers to discuss issues that may come up during implementation, allowing time for solutions to be suggested or developed.

6) Discuss potential business models for the future implementation of digital preservation solutions for small and medium-sized academic and research libraries, both within the Advisory Board, and in concert with selected service providers.

7) Make final decisions as to content of preliminary final report. Determine which solutions are viable, plausible, and cost-effective.

8) Submit preliminary final report to IMLS for editorial review before findings are publicly disseminated.

9) Discuss preliminary final report with IMLS representative and make appropriate edits as necessary.

9) Outside evaluator reviews and assesses project work.

10) Hold national IMLS-cosponsored conference on NIU campus, at which project partners and participants present and discuss research and findings to an audience of representatives of small and medium-sized institutions searching for digital preservation solutions. These anticipated costs are built into our budget.

11) Issue formal report on findings and make recommendations on suitable approaches (and accompanying considerations of each approach), including possible business models. All frameworks, decision-making tools, assessment tools, and functional requirements developed will be made freely available through the project website in addition to being appended to the formal report.

12) Primary Investigators will present their findings at appropriate national conferences, and submit discussions of findings for publication in the appropriate professional venues.

Additionally, in the two years following the end of the grant period, project staff members will convene four webinars for representatives of institutions implementing (or considering implementing) the project’s resource model, and continue email support to adopting institutions.