Although it may seem like distant history, just a few years ago many of us were using word-processing programs like WordStar and saving our files on floppy disks. How many of us thought at that time to create copies of our work in alternative formats so that it would be available to us in the future?
The need for preserving digital assets is only a few decades old but is growing and becoming more pressing by the day. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), “in 2011, the amount of digital information produced in the year should equal…10 times that produced in 2006” (fig. 1). “The compound annual growth rate between now and 2011 is expected to be almost 60% .”
In the last two decades, digital technology has enabled us to create, use, and be enriched by information in ways that were unthinkable a generation ago. With the technology available today, any Internet user can become a global publisher in a matter of minutes by posting a video to YouTube. Researchers can use the Web for posting scholarly communications or for documenting research. This data may in turn be deposited into an institutional repository—searchable through Google—or published in a blog for the use of colleagues worldwide.
The digital preservation challenge is most acute when it comes to items that were produced in digital format—that is, born digitally. Such items represent over 93% of the world’s information, and the vast majority of them exist exclusively in digital format, a fact that makes the preservation of digital information critical.
Connecting Past, Present, and Future: How?
In their role of preserving cumulative knowledge, national and academic libraries around the world are searching for a solution that will support the massive task of collecting and preserving digital material. To help these institutions fulfill their mission and ensure that scholarship and cultural assets remain accessible for future generations, Ex Libris in partnership with the National Library of New Zealand and an international team of preservation experts has developed a secure, highly scalable, and easily managed digital preservation system.
The Ex Libris Digital Preservation System (DPS) is an end–to-end solution designed to support the acquisition, validation, ingestion, storage, management, preservation, and dissemination of all types of digital objects. Conforming to the ISO-recognized Open Archival Information System (OAIS), DPS also supports library industry standards, such as METS, PREMIS, MARC, Dublin Core, and OAI-PMH.
Built on a distributed architecture that can support multiple flexible server configurations, the scalable system is designed to handle digital collections of all sizes. By keeping the permanent and working repositories separate, it offers the security and redundancy required for the safety of these collections.
DPS supports the functional needs of institutions of all types and sizes. Batch loads, staging areas, and multiple deposit hierarchies enable users to manage the ingestion of new material efficiently and effectively.
Flexibility is an important feature of DPS. In particular, easy setup options enable institutions to configure the system to support their unique requirements.
DPS is based on recognized standards, including the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model, and conforms to trusted digital repository (TDR) requirements. The system thereby provides institutions with the infrastructure and technology needed to preserve and facilitate access to the digital collections under their guardianship.
Finally, accessibility is at the heart of DPS. Preserved digital entities are delivered via viewers that are compatible with constantly evolving format types and are supplied as part of the system and via third-party applications. Built-in integration capabilities enable the system to accept delivery requests from discovery and delivery applications such as Primo® while supporting the enforcement of item-level access rights.
For additional information on the Ex Libris Digital Preservation System, link to our Web site.
Contributed by Yaniv Levi, Preservation product manager
 IDC White Paper “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe” sponsored by EMC, March 2008