November 7th is World Digital Preservation Day. This is a global campaign, co-ordinated by the Digital Preservation Coalition, to raise awareness of the issues associated with the preservation of digital information. The theme of this year’s campaign is At Risk Digital Materials, but I would argue that all digital material is at risk, as the fast change of technology, the fragility of the binary code, the obsolescence of hardware and software, all present preservation challenges. There are also challenges in providing access to this material, as it can be difficult to establish provenance and original order, which is the way that archival material has traditionally been catalogued, when dealing with a succession of tweets posted on social media.

In Wales, we have been working together to mitigate the risks posed by the preservation of digital material. The Archives and Records Council Wales, supported by Welsh Government and the National Library of Wales, has produced a national digital preservation policy and developed a technological solution to preserve and provide access to the digital material acquired by its partners. The solution preserves the content in a central repository held at the Library, whist access is provided through the catalogues of the partners.

Family memories are also at risk from digital technologies, as emails, photographs and videos are all being created in digital format. The preservation of these digital memories depends upon the creators taking action now to ensure that they are available for future generations. The message of World Digital Preservation Day is to raise awareness of the need to act to order to preserve, so that digital content is safeguarded for the future.

Sally McInnes,
Chair, ARCW Digital Preservation Group

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