Friday, February 7, 2014

Digital Document Fixity?

As more law libraries are developing independent digital collections it is important to take into consideration the preservation of those documents for the future. One main component of this is to ensure that the files and corresponding metadata have not been corrupted. While many of us are fortunate enough to have a third-party system hosting our content that we can rely on to maintain the integrity of our documents, this isn’t something that is universally true. 

If you aren’t relying on a third-party system, and in many cases even if you are, you will want to maintain independent copies of your data. A good guideline to follow is the NDSA’s Levels of Digital Preservation. This tiered set of recommendations provides solutions for institutions of all sizes and allows you to start small and build up. Bear in mind that the goal is to develop these guidelines over time, so it’s a good idea to check back occasionally to see if they have been updated.

One of the central concepts of these guidelines is the idea of fixity, or stability, of digital documents. In essence fixity is information that can be used to confirm that unauthorized changes have not been made to digital content. NDSA has recently released a draft version of a Fact Sheet, Checking Your Digital Content: How, What and When to Check Fixity?, that helps identify the reasons behind identifying and then checking fixity, as well as several ways to go about doing so and where to store fixity data once it has been obtained.

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