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Title: Selection of digital material for preservation in libraries, archives and museums
Author: Ravenwood, Clare
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2013
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Digital material has different preservation requirements than non-digital and is at greater risk of loss unless deliberate preservation activities are undertaken. Digital preservation is an on-going managed process designed to enable continued use of digital material for as long as necessary. Much of the digital preservation research to date has focused on understanding technical steps in preserving digital objects and there has been less attention paid to assumptions about selection and the conceptual underpinnings of practice. Selection is done, not conceptualised. Therefore the aim of this research was to investigate the theory and practice of selection for digital preservation in UK memory institutions. The objectives employed to achieve this aim were firstly to examine the underlying theory relating to selection in libraries, archives and museums of non-digital material. The research then went on to investigate who the stakeholders are in selection, how selection of digital material is performed and identifying the key influential factors in selection. An intensive, qualitative approach was used to complete these objectives. A thorough review of the literature provided a theoretical background to selection in libraries, archives and museums. Then preliminary data were gathered through a set of exploratory interviews with eight digital preservation experts in order to provide an overview of selection for digital preservation. The findings from these interviews then formed the basis for the second set of interviews with twenty five practitioners working in libraries, archives and museums. The views of practitioners were under-explored in the literature although it is they that perform selection. In addition to these interviews, twenty two current digital preservation policies were examined. This research has found that there is on the whole little change required for selecting digital material, in comparison to selecting non-digital material, although technical criteria relating to the ability of the institution to manage and preserve the material are of high importance. There is a clear assumption in institutions of selection leading only to permanent collecting, which should be questioned. This research has uncovered drivers to selection, including external funders, and barriers, which include a lack of confidence and knowledge on the part of practitioners in how to select and manage digital material. Concepts identified through this research provide a deeper understanding of selection for digital preservation in different contexts and encapsulate key factors underpinning selection. The concept of professionalism is a key factor; the need to be professional and ethical guide s practitioners through specific professional skills and knowledge. The practitioners become engaged with digital material and the level of engagement mirrors the way digital material is conceptualised by practitioners. Many stakeholders were identified, including managers, senior managers, users, creators and donors, funders, other organisations and IT staff. Relationships with stakeholders and the possible roles they play in selection were found to be key factors in selection. These findings contributed to the achievement of the final objective, which was to develop a conceptual model of key factors underpinning selection for of digital material for preservation. The conceptual model consists of five main concepts and their relationships: professionalism; relationships; organisational capabilities; material properties; and boundaries. There is a clear need for greater availability and access to training and networking opportunities for practitioners in order to increase engagement with digital material. Through this research, factors relating to selection have been identified and conceptualised. It has uncovered issues not previously addressed, in particular relating to the social aspect of selection. This research provides an understanding of the complexities of selection and the influences upon it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Selection ; Criteria ; Digital preservation ; Digital material ; Libraries ; Archives ; Museums