Digital Preservation Network launched by US Universities

An interesting development presented at recent US meetings(Association of Research Libraries and Coalition for Networked Information) is the launch of a Digital Preservation Network (DPN) by over 50 major US universities.

It is a very new initiative and you can find current information on the DPN website and a bit more information at the DPN launch team page. The initiative is being catalysed and led by James Hilton Vice-President and Chief Information Officer at the University of Virginia.

The DPN caught my eye for many reasons. One being that in November 2008 with support from JISC, I was part of a digital archiving study group with amongst others Don Walters (Mellon Foundation) and Sandy Payette (Fedora Commons) that presented and debated the subject of digital preservation with US university presidents and Vice-Chancellors from UK universities who were part of the Windsor Group. The meeting was hosted by the University of Virginia.

The meeting had an extremely influential group of attendees and provided sufficient time and the right environment for them to engage seriously with the topics presented. I was surprised by the real level of engagement and recognition of the problem of digital archiving and sense of mission and responsibility that universities should have coming from the University Presidents and V-Cs themselves. It resonated very strongly as an issue with the university leaders present – not an outcome I had necessarily expected.

Unfortunately the follow-up from that meeting was hit by the economic crisis which was a big disappointment given the progress made. However I sense that the development of DPN perhaps flows from that meeting and the work of colleagues on the digital archiving working group eventually may prove fruitful.

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