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Digital Preservation Framework

This document delineates roles and responsibilities within the organization and identifies the scope of the materials to which the policy applies, including priorities based on content type and defined levels of preservation service. The Framework is overseen and regularly reviewed by the Library’s Digital Preservation Committee.

Roles and responsibilities

  • University Librarian: Responsible for ensuring digital preservation policy and services are appropriately managed, resourced, and aligned with the University and Library’s missions and strategic directions.
  • Library Cabinet: Responsible for authorizing and overseeing the Digital Preservation Policy and digital preservation service.
  • Digital Preservation Committee: Responsible for the design, development, and review of digital preservation policies, procedures, services, and technologies, including regular review of the Library’s Digital Preservation Policy and Framework.
  • Digital Preservation Librarian: Serves as Chair of the Digital Preservation Committee, manages the Library’s digital preservation infrastructure, performs training and outreach around digital preservation in the Library and broader university community, and is principally responsible for developing and supporting the Library’s digital preservation service offerings.
  • Special Collections Archivist: Responsible for management of the Library’s special collections, including in digital formats. The Special Collections Archivist leads policy and workflow development related to digital preservation of Special Collections content.
  • Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian: Responsible for management of the Spectrum Research Repository and its contents, and leads policy and workflow development related to digital preservation of Spectrum content.
  • Library Information System & Technology: Responsible for management of and updates to the virtual machines and network storage on which the Library’s digital preservation software systems run.
  • Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS): Responsible for provisioning and monitoring virtual machines and network storage on which the Library’s digital preservation software systems run and ensuring that there all virtual infrastructure is appropriately managed and backed up.
  • Donors and depositors: Responsible for transferring digital content to the Library via donation or deposit and delivering the highest quality digital content possible, following appropriate library policies and recommendations to the greatest extent possible.
  • Software and service vendors: Software and service vendors such as Artefactual Systems and Scholars Portal, etc. are responsible according to contracts and service agreements in place for appropriately managing and providing timely access to contracted and shared services in which the Library participates as part of its digital preservation implementation strategy.


The Library seeks to collaborate when doing so will improve the quality and sustainability of its digital preservation activities. This may include knowledge transfer with stakeholders at Concordia University, including other departments engaged in digital preservation, as well as participation in consortium-based services and efforts when appropriate. When applicable, the Library will participate in the ongoing development of standards and best practices and support open infrastructure projects in the digital preservation and digital curation communities.

Scope and prioritizations

Concordia University Library takes responsibility to preserve the following content areas, subject to future revision:

High Priority

  • Unique born-digital materials collected by donation in Special Collections
  • Audiovisual materials reformatted for preservation in Special Collections
  • Electronic theses and dissertations, faculty research, and other contents of the Spectrum Research Repository
  • WARC (Web ARChive) files collected as part of the Library’s web archiving activities

Low Priority

  • Digitized copies of stable physical materials in Special Collections

Out of Scope

  • Research data in the Concordia University Dataverse instance
  • Licenced electronic resources
  • Data from Concordia University-affiliated projects that is not specifically covered by the scoping statement of this policy or a specific agreement with the Library

Levels of preservation

The Library’s Format Policy Registries (FPR) dictate the Library’s level of commitment for preserving digital materials from the Spectrum Research Repository and Special Collections on a per-file-format basis. These FPRs are considered an evolving part of the Library’s digital preservation framework and strategy.

Levels of support indicate the Library’s ability to maintain the usability of a digital object over time. These assessments are made on a per-file format basis and apply to the Spectrum Research Repository Format Policy Registry and the Special Collections Format Policy Registry. There are three levels of support: Basic, Watch, and Full.

Basic-level Support

The minimum level of treatment that all digital objects actively managed for digital preservation receive. At this level, the Library preserves the bit-stream (i.e. the 1s and 0s that comprise the code) of a file exactly as-is. Usually, no format migration is performed at this level. This level of support does not necessarily ensure that files will be usable by software available at a future point in time. Any formats not explicitly mentioned in the Format Policy Registry are preserved by the Library at the Basic-level. Below are the assurances that can be granted for file formats that comply with Basic-Level Support:

  • Attempt to perform file format identification
  • Reliable and secure storage on backed-up servers.
  • Regular audits of checksums (i.e., fixity check) to ensure that no files have corrupted or changed in any way. This practice ensures the Library’s ability provide an exact and authentic copy of original files over time
  • For Spectrum Research Repository content: Public online access via Spectrum for items out-of-embargo

Watch-level Support

File formats at this level of support are those for which the Library is currently only able to offer Basic-level support, but for which we hope to provide Full support in the future. This may be because the formats are common or highly valued or because there is reason to believe that developments in the software industry and digital preservation community will make it easier to perform high-quality batch file format migrations in the future. Below are the assurances that can be granted for file formats that comply with Watch-Level Support in addition to the Basic-Level Support given to all managed files:

  • Attempt to perform normalization to a long-term preservation format
  • Undertake strategic monitoring of format

Full-level Support

File formats at this level of support are those for which the Library has high confidence in their long-term usability, either because the original format is already a preferred Preservation Format, or because the Library consistently and reliably normalizes files in this format to a documented Preservation Format. File formats that benefit from Full-Level Support are those that tend to be more commonly used and relatively stable. These formats are more likely to function cross-platform, be openly documented, and in some cases (e.g., PDF/A), be compliant with ISO standards. Below are the assurances that can be granted for file formats that comply with Full-Level Support, in addition to the Basic-Level Support given to all uploaded files:

  • File format identification
  • Perform normalization to a long-term preservation format
  • Perform validation of file format
  • Undertake strategic monitoring of format


In addition to offering a range of support for file formats, the Library may also choose to employ different types of storage for preserved content. For example, digital reproductions of stable, physical materials need not necessarily receive the same level of redundancy and fixity checking as unique born-digital materials. Decisions about appropriate preservation storage for a given collection or content type will seek to balance digital preservation best practices with sustainability, the value and uniqueness of the materials, related commitments, and other relevant factors, with the intention of making the most meaningful possible preservation impact with available resources.

Currently, the available levels of storage available include:

Ontario Library Research Cloud (OLRC): Data sent to the OLRC is replicated across three geographically distributed locations in the network, regularly audited for fixity, and self-healing. This is considered the highest tier of storage available at the Library.

Local Concordia network storage:  Data stored in Concordia network storage is replicated between Concordia’s Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses and periodically written to tape backup. This is considered a lower grade of storage than the OLRC but sufficient for certain types of content, such as digitized images of stable physical records.

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