10  ·  Survey Results:  Executive Summary
and moving images. The significance of these collec-
tions is primarily predicated on the uniqueness and
overall importance of special collections and gradu-
ate student research. Respondents referred to special
collections as “core (to) our identity” and “unique,”
and likewise referred to ETDs as “unique output by
the university community” and figure as “part of the
university’s official record.”
Surprisingly, although 94% of respondents are
managing licensed materials such as e-journals and
databases, only 59% say that they are planning to
preserve them. Ranking near the bottom of the pres-
ervation priorities are administrative records, web-
harvested materials, applications/operating systems/
other software, and computer games.
Local Preservation Activities
Most of the responding libraries are actively engaged
in digital preservation in-house rather than outsourc-
ing it to external parties. Ninety percent reported that
they are engaged in or intend to engage in local ac-
tivities to preserve their digital content. Half of these
respondents reported that they are running digital
preservation solutions in-house for their most impor-
tant collections, and nearly a quarter reported that
they are also running collaborative digital preserva-
tion solutions that have a local component.
Respondents described a number of factors they
consider when selecting digital content for local pres-
ervation efforts. The most consistently cited criteria
include local scholarly use (faculty research needs,
user needs, etc.), investment level (purchased content,
digitization projects, etc.), and risk factors (unique-
ness, condition, etc.). Approximately 42% of respon-
dents explicitly mentioned faculty research needs,
scholarly output, and/or user needs as drivers for
prioritizing content for preservation. Nearly as many
give priority to content or collections that represent
a significant institutional investment, including the
products of digitization projects. Several institutions
give priority to digital surrogates for fragile materials
that preclude handling the originals. Risk factors such
as uniqueness, rarity, and/or significance were also
primary preservation criteria. Many institutions are
making efforts to address local scholarly use, invest-
ment level, and risk factor criteria simultaneously.
When asked who will make local selection de-
cisions, respondents most often mentioned digital
initiatives librarians or collection managers. Slightly
less frequently mentioned were special collections
librarians and archivists. Content providers, reposi-
tory managers, and library administration were least
often mentioned.
Preservation Strategies: Formats
While the survey sought to gauge the current ap-
proaches research libraries use for prioritizing content
and collections for long-term preservation, some of
the key aims of the survey were to identify prevailing
digital preservation solutions and strategies, including
migration to archival formats and bit-level preserva-
tion, or combinations of these two approaches.
The question of broad support for digital formats
and/or successful migration to archival quality for-
mats has remained a topic of great interest in the
digital preservation community. The survey asked
if the library limits, or plans to limit, the file formats
they preserve locally. Slightly more than half of the
responding institutions report that they are already
limiting file formats for preservation purposes. This
decision is heavily influenced by concerns about for-
mat viability and technical capacity (infrastructure).
As one respondent stated, “Greater uniformity of
format makes management, future migration, and
development of processes for ingestion, QC [quality
control], and access/delivery easier.”
Several respondents mentioned the lack of avail-
able migration tools for many formats and lack of
support for multiple formats in their current software
repository systems. Respondents also cited a lack of
financial resources as a reason for limiting formats.
One institution put it succinctly, “It is ultimately an
issue of time and money, in that more file types re-
quire more support. In addition, we want to focus as
much as possible on archival formats (i.e., XML and
non-lossy image formats) that further restricts sup-
ported file types.”
The vast majority of research libraries are com-
mitting to support only content that is deposited in
an archival format or for which they have some as-
surances of migrating. Only a quarter of respondents
have committed to more flexible support for many or
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