IATE Term of the Week: Digital Preservation


digital preservation Currently, the sustainability and preservation of digital archives is a rising issue. At a time when content is increasingly delivered and consumed digitally, the need of credible storage means is great. In the past years, the preservation referred only to physical documents, which are in need of protection by time and natural or human disaster. Today, the issue of the maintenance and preservation of digital documents attracts the attention.

The digital preservation “combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time” (IATE). The term is composed of  “digital” which is “the representation of information as numbers with discrete (i.e.non-continuous) values, usually expressed as a sequence of binary digits” and “preservation” which is “the act of keeping something the same or of preventing it from being damaged”. According to K. Russell the digital preservation is “the process by which digital data is stored in digital form to ensure the usability, durability and ‘intellectual’ integrity of the information contained”. In addition, there are four strategies for digital preservation: refreshing, technology preservation, evaluation or encapsulation and migration. 

Both, digital documents and digitalized documents face the same danger which is correlated to the tools these files can be used with. Digital media are sensitive and have a limited life span even under the best conditions. Hardware and software used to record, store and retrieve digital information is replaced every 2-5 years due to the evolution of technology. There is always a risk that the digital material is inaccessible and therefore useless, if the necessary measures of maintenance are not continually taken. 

The case of the National Library of Scotland is very interesting: They aim to preserve millions of books, maps and papers. They have an ongoing digital strategy with a number of targets, one of which is that they will have a third of its collections in a digital format by 2025(!). More and more institutions set up a department of digital preservation and the result will be a treasure of knowledge and information.digipresIATESources:

Kelly Russell, “Digital Preservation: Ensuring Access to Digital Materials Into the Future”, http://www.leeds.ac.uk/cedars/DigPres.htm. Accessed October 30, 2019

Definition of preservation term, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/fr/dictionnaire/anglais/preservation. Accessed October 30, 2019

The term digital in IATE, https://iate.europa.eu/search/standard/result/1572430774352/1. Accessed October 30, 2019

The term digital preservation in IATE, https://iate.europa.eu/search/standard/result/1572430786709/1 Accessed October 30, 2019

How the National Library of Scotland aims to preserve millions of books, NS Tech, October2019, https://tech.newstatesman.com/it-leaders/national-library-of-scotland. Accessed October 30, 2019

antonia pappaAntonia Pappa – Communication trainee at the Terminology Unit

Born in Greece in 1992. She holds a Bachelor degree of Communication, Culture and Media and she worked, for three years, for a newspaper and food magazines in Greece. Antonia is now taking a Master’s degree in International Marketing and Communication and is working her thesis about social media advertising. In her free time, she likes travelling, doing yoga and going for a walk with her dog.