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National Digital Preservation Initiatives: An Overview of Developments in Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom and of Related International Activity

report cover

Commissioned for and sponsored by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Library of Congress

by Neil Beagrie
April 2003

Copublished by the Council on Library and Information Resources
and the Library of Congress

Copyright 2003 in compilation by the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Library of Congress. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transcribed in any form without permission of the publishers. Requests for reproduction or other uses or questions pertaining to permissions should be submitted in writing to the Director of Communications at the Council on Library and Information Resources, 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036.

About the Author

About the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program



1.0 Executive Summary

1.1 Aims, Scope, and Methodology
1.2 Key Observations and Recommendations

1.2.1 Author’s Observations and Recommendations
1.2.2 National Library of Australia Observations and Recommendations to NDIIPP
1.2.3 Bibliothèque nationale de France Observations and Recommendations to NDIIPP
1.2.4 Koninklijke Bibliotheek Observations and Recommendations to NDIIPP
1.2.5 British Library Observations and Recommendations to NDIIPP
1.2.6 Recommendations for Further Technical Investigation

2.0 Aims, Scope, and Methodology

3.0 National Surveys

3.1 Australia

3.1.1 National Context
3.1.2 The National Library of Australia
3.1.3 National and Institutional Initiatives
3.1.4 International Initiatives
3.1.5 Future International Collaboration

3.2 France

3.2.1 National Context
3.2.2 The French National Library (Bibliothèque nationale de France)
3.2.3 National and Institutional Initiatives
3.2.4 International Initiatives
3.2.5 Future International Initiatives

3.3 The Netherlands

3.3.1 National Context
3.3.2 The National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek)
3.3.3 National and Institutional Initiatives
3.3.4 International Initiatives
3.3.5 Future International Initiatives

3.4 United Kingdom

3.4.1 National Context
3.4.2 The British Library
3.4.3 National and Institutional Initiatives
3.4.4 International Initiatives
3.4.5 Future International Initiatives

4.0 Related Multinational Initiatives

4.1 Electronic Resource Preservation and Access NETwork
4.2 Networked European Deposit Library
4.3 Open Archival Information System Standard
4.4 Preservation Technology for European Broadcast Archives

5.0 References and Web Sites Consulted

5.1 References
5.2 Web Sites Consulted for the Study

About the Author

Neil Beagrie became program director for digital preservation in the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in June 2000. He is responsible for the activities of JISC Digital Preservation Focus. This program is developing JISC policy, guidance to institutions, and collaborative programs for digital preservation, electronic records, and digital collection management on behalf of the Higher and Further Education Councils and institutions in the United Kingdom.

He was research director and coauthor of Preservation Management of Digital Materials, a study published by the British Library in 2001. He founded and coordinated the development of a cross-sectoral Digital Preservation Coalition in the United Kingdom and became its first company secretary. In addition to moderating the digital preservation listserv, he is a member of the Preserving Access to Digital Information (PADI) International Advisory Group and the RLG/OCLC Working Group on Digital Archive Attributes.

From 1997 to 2000, he was assistant director of the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS). In that post, he developed digital collections policy and standards and published extensively on digital preservation issues. He was joint author with Daniel Greenstein of the study A Strategic Policy Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Collections (1998). Before joining the AHDS, he was head of Archaeological Archives and Library at the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.

He has previously worked as a consultant with the U.K. New Opportunities Fund Digitisation program and the U.K. Department of Environment.

Mr. Beagrie completed this report in a private capacity as a consultant.

About the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program

The mission of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is to develop a national strategy to collect, archive, and preserve the burgeoning amounts of digital content, especially materials that are created only in digital formats, for current and future generations.


Libraries and archives have long recognized the importance of international cooperation and collaboration. As cultural and scholarly institutions in particular and society in general have embraced information technologies, digital content and the networks over which it is transmitted have shown how permeable civil and national boundaries can be. This phenomenon has highlighted the importance of cooperation in the global world of information as well as the subtleties of navigating within the physical world of different institutional, legal, and economic cultures. Our challenge is to respect those many boundaries and differences while sustaining practices and programs that will enable us to preserve contemporary digital expression for use by generations to come. Few would deny the long-term importance of digital information, whether it is embodied in text, Web sites, electronic books and periodicals, music, images, cinema, or any other format. How to preserve that digital content, however, presents an open and demanding set of questions.

The importance of answering these questions has become greater as the volume of digital information has increased. For the last two-and-a-half years, the Library of Congress (LC) has been engaged in an extensive planning process as part of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Created by the U.S. Congress in December 2000 under Public Law 106-554, the NDIIPP calls on the LC to lead a national planning effort for the long-term preservation of digital content and to work collaboratively with representatives of other federal, research, library, and business organizations. The LC has interpreted its charge broadly to include consultations with colleagues at other national libraries who have begun to address the challenges of digital resources and from whom we have much to learn.

Neil Beagrie’s report on selected international initiatives is an important step in our commitment to listen, learn, and share our findings. The report offers a framework within which we can understand and compare programs that sometimes seem disparate and confusing. The study contextualizes its findings in a set of reasonable forecasts about the near future of information technology and the landscape in which that technology is likely to be situated.

In consultation with LC and the Council on Library and Information Resources, Mr. Beagrie identified national programs in Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom that were likely to be similar to the then-nascent NDIIPP effort. Drawing on information collected in a series of interviews and site visits early in 2002, he systematically describes each program’s (1) national context, including mission and relevant legal framework; (2) institutional and national initiatives and projects; (3) international initiatives; and (4) planned or future international initiatives. He amplifies these findings with other examples that are not strictly national in scope but are highly influential, such as the Open Archival Information System and Preservation Technology for European Broadcast Archives.

All these efforts, as well as LC’s parallel investigations, demonstrate that digital preservation requires more than technology, important though technology is to any set of solutions. One of the fundamental challenges for NDIIPP is to identify an organizational framework as well as technological tools and systems that are flexible enough to empower local and regional decisions and mobilize efforts while sustaining overall coherence. The massive scale of digital information and the complexities surrounding it mandate cooperation among many institutions and at many levels.

Over the last century, libraries and archives have developed many ways to work together. Our history of cooperation for the sake of future scholarship is a powerful tool as we seek ways to preserve digital content for the generations to come. This report reminds us of that tradition and helps us see how to use our experience as we move forward into the age of digital information.

Laura E. Campbell
Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives
Library of Congress

Amy Friedlander
Special Projects Associate
Council on Library and Information Resources


ADRI    Australian Digital Resource Identifier
AHDS   Arts and Humanities Data Service
ARNO   Academic Research in the Netherlands Online
AWIICS   Archival Workshop on Ingest, Identification, and Certification Standards
BBC   British Broadcasting Company
BL   British Library
BnF   Bibliothèque nationale de France
CASL   Council of Australian State Libraries
CCSDS   Consultative Committee on Space Data Systems
CDNL   Conference of Directors of National Libraries
CENL   Conference of European National Librarians
CLIR   Council on Library and Information Resources
CNC   Centre National de la Cinématographie
CNES   Centre National d’Études Spatiales
COUPERIN   Consortium Universitaire des Périodiques Numériques
DADs   Digital Archive Directions
DLS   Digital Library Store
DNEP   Deposit of Netherlands Electronic Publications
DNEP-i   Deposit of Netherlands Electronic Publications-implementation
DOI   Digital Object Identifier
DOMS   Digital Object Management System
DOSS   Digital Object Storage System
DPC   Digital Preservation Coalition
ERPANET   Electronic Resource Preservation and Access NETwork
EU   European Union
HATII   Humanities Advanced Technologies and Information Institute
INA   Institut National de l’Audiovisuel
INRIA   Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique
IPR   Intellectual property rights
ISO   International Standards Organization
IT   Information technology
JCVD   Joint Committee on Voluntary Deposit
JISC   Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher and Further Education Councils
KB   Koninklijke Bibliotheek
LC   Library of Congress
LOCKSS   Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe
LTP   Long-term preservation
NARA   National Archives and Records Administration
NDIIPP   National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
NEDLIB   Networked European Deposit Library
NIWI   Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services
NLA   National Library of Australia
NPO   National Preservation Office
OAIS   Open Archival Information System
OCLC   Online Computer Library Center
PADI   Preserving Access to Digital Information
PANDORA   Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia
PIN   Pérennisation des Informations Numériques
PRESTO   Preservation Technology for European Archives
PRO   Public Record Office
RAI   Radiotelevisione Italiana
SCOLD   Standing Committee of Legal Deposit Libraries
SIMONE   Simple Onix Editor
SIPAD   Système d’Information, de Préservation et d’Accès aux Données
TEL   The European Library
UNESCO   United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UVC   Universal Virtual Computer
W3C   World Wide Web Consortium


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