• From preservation to curation at the California Digital Library

Farley, Laine


digital preservation

cultural heritage


Even though digital preservation is a fundamental function of libraries, it is not always supported or funded as a core activity in academic environments. Too often it is viewed by administrators as an extra and expensive activity with no predictable paths to sustainability. Researchers may view it as something they can postpone until later even though they express a need for a secure place to store their research output. Because the California Digital Library serves a large constituency where shared services and economies of scale are leveraged to advantage in other areas, it seemed logical to develop a centralized preservation service. However, it has been challenging to maintain support for a service viewed as the last stage of research. Thus, CDL has shifted the focus to curation, a series of decisions and actions that occur throughout the research life cycle, and has developed a corresponding set of services. These services are embedded earlier in the life cycle and support other uses, while at the same time encouraging practices that lead to preservation-ready content. The resulting service landscape, incentives for researchers, and responses to sustainability concerns are explored as well as some of the remaining challenges. Keywords: curation, sustainability, research life cycle.