1. Audience and Purpose 

The Executive Guide on Digital Preservation (the Guide) is intended as a resource to help those people responsible for the preservation of digital materials inform senior members within their organization about the relevance and importance of digital preservation, and the opportunities the preservation of digital materials can create.

Users of the information within this Guide may belong to memory and heritage institutions, commercial or financial organizations, government bodies and not-for-profits. The development of this Guide has been supported by UNESCO, whose member states all have a role in implementing the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in Digital Form.

The Recommendation is a useful reference document when reaching out to organizations where memory is not their primary focus. Indeed, all organizations - public, private, local, national or international - are involved with the production of documentary and digital heritage and should be involved actively in its identification, promotion and protection. These groups are all encouraged to consider the sustainability of their digital materials and develop mechanisms to extract and preserve content.

In order to support the UNESCO member states, and organizations of all types, in their mission to preserve our digital heritage the Guide aims to be as broad reaching as possible. It does, however, recognize that even within the same sector or state, every organization is different, has different priorities, risk factors and motivators. It therefore presents a set of generic and sector specific statements and documents, which may be selected and tailored by individual organizations to assist in their internal advocacy work and in the application of the UNESCO recommendations.

Intended to be interactive and customizable, the Guide is presented as an online and accessible collection of resources, and contains:

  • Generic statements which define digital preservation in a range of terms which may be understood by various organization types
  • Information relating to digital preservation in specific sectors and organization types
  • A summary of the importance of digital preservation generally and specifically
  • Key motivators for digital preservation which may be relevant to different organization types
  • Risks and opportunities associated with each of these key motivators
  • Downloadable and customizable presentations
  • Useful links to other related and relevant resources
  • Statistics and evidence to be used in informing others and making the case for digital preservation

While the content will predominantly be used by existing advocates of digital preservation within an organization, the ultimate target audience for information and the messages it contains, is that of senior executives, legislators and budget holders, as well as decision and policy makers.

2. How to Use It

Information contained within the Guide may be used to create and deliver the message about digital preservation in the most relevant and appropriate format for a user’s organization.

For example:

A policy officer working in an archive or at a ministry in a country that is only just beginning with digital preservation may take the generic statements, as presented within the PowerPoint template, to explain the high-level concept to management.

A corporate archivist who understands the requirement for the auditability of digital documentation might select some of the risks associated with the legal and regulatory compliance ‘motivator’ to demonstrate to senior management the implications of not preserving.

Custodians of research data may use some of the sector specific risks and opportunities as part of a Business Case explaining why there is a requirement for digital preservation within a funding application.

Once the concept has been understood and digital preservation is established as a practice within an organization, some of the reputational opportunities identified within the Guide may be used to convince executives about the importance of accreditation or certification.

Some of the statements contained within the Guide may be applicable to more than one sector. These statements are presented as one way of communicating the importance, risks, opportunities and needs associated with digital preservation – however, as each organization and the content it manages is different, it is expected that users will need to customise the messages, selecting the most appropriate statements from across the sectors presented.

3. Reuse and Updates

The Guide is a community owned resource. The content has been contributed by volunteer members of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and aligned organizations and represents a small portion of our global digital preservation community. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the Guide will be still relevant to an international and cross-sector audience as much of the information is widely applicable and spans organization types and geography.

Once the messages contained within the Guide have been tailored for use within a specific organization, these customised messages are welcomed as updates for inclusion in future iterations of the resource, and their re-submission into the Guide is encouraged.

Where translations have been offered by DPC members and representatives of UNESCO member states these are provided as part of the Guide. Please note that not all parts of the Guide will have been translated into all languages, but requests to translate the Guide into other languages not currently offered are welcomed. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to talk about translating the Guide into other languages.

The content of the Guide is made available under an Open Government License v3.0 http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/ so that it can be re-used as widely as possible. Users are welcome to incorporate the information contained within the Guide locally into their own advocacy materials. Please use this form of acknowledgement in re-use: Executive Guide on Digital Preservation http://handbook.dpconline.org/ Digital Preservation Coalition, licensed under the Open Government License v3.0.


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