The Economics of Digital Preservation, Analyzed and Digested
March 26th, 2010 by Isaiah Beard

If there is one thing that every organization, institution, and individual curator learns as they delve into digitally preserving their collections, it’s that digital preservation isn’t cheap.  While there are very compelling reasons for digitizing, sometimes including it being cost-effective, there are still significant startup costs and an ongoing financial commitment required to sustain and keep your digital preservation projects viable.  Planning out the initial capital outlay and budgeting the ongoing maintenance costs requires a very different funding model from traditional, physical and analog collections.

In light of this, An NSF and Mellon Foundation-sponsored Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access was convened in 2007, to explore the problem of economic sustainability of digital preservation platforms.  Their goal is to issue “specific recommendations that are economically viable and of use to a broad audience, from individuals to institutions and corporations to cultural heritage centers.”

Their final report has been issued. and is publicly available on their site.  I highly recommend reading through the report for any curator, business, library, or educational or heritage institution that is considering a long term preservation project and needs to get a grasp on the economic realities of such an endeavor:

They also have a complete listing of their publications, including preliminary and interim reports.  And, on April 1, a Symposium to celebrate the report’s release and open discussion is being held in Washington, DC.


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