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by David Portman

Exploring digital preservation best practice with UNESCO PERSIST

The PERSIST Project is an initiative to ensure the long-term sustainable access and survival of digital heritage.

March 7, 2017

At the end of February the UNESCO PERSIST Content and Best Practices Working Group met at the German National Library in Frankfurt. The PERSIST Project is an initiative to ensure the long-term sustainable access and survival of digital heritage.

Over two days, the group held a mandate scoping workshop, to set out our objectives. Above all, the Working Group aims to identify and address the needs of digital preservation practitioners, both at a local and international level.

Conversation and discussion throughout the event focused on the benefits of global-level collaboration on digital preservation, the core values of digital archiving, and the changes required to ensure support from institutions and policy makers. We reached some exciting conclusions that set out a clear path to further success in our mission of preserving digital content.


The workshop identified some key targets regarding the profile of digital preservation, including opening the door to big companies, tackling copyright issues, and building relationships with multi-stakeholders. There was agreement that the reliance on information without preservation is a huge threat to businesses, so maintaining and improving channels of communication with the ICT industry is a priority.

Standardisation of the digital preservation industry was flagged up during the workshop as an area requiring attention; especially when it comes to exporting web data needed for preservation and identifying a common interchange practice. One welcome conclusion is that digital preservation technology providers can be trusted to provide the technical solution and should be working in harmony with academia, practitioners and the vendors of content creation software.

Personally, I took a great deal away from the workshop in Frankfurt, and I have no doubt that we will act on the lessons learnt and issues raised to optimise our strategy in approaching digital preservation. The power of UNESCO to enable cross-border interactions and collaborations is something that lends excellent support to the core values of digital archiving. Ultimately, I hope it will help to bring about a new global mind-set that acknowledges our mission as one with significant societal impact.

Jon Tilbury, CTO, Preservica