June 7, 2023

MetaArchive’s Community Research Task Force is Planning for the Future of the Community

The MetaArchive Cooperative broke ground in community-based digital preservation when it was founded in 2004. Over its first decade, it grew to be one of the first international, member-owned, distributed digital preservation networks. Other digital preservation organizations, particularly in the community of LOCKSS networks, were able to learn from MetaArchive and refine on its early implementations of LOCKSS and community governance model.

Now at the end of its second decade, MetaArchive is still dedicated to community-driven digital preservation. MetaArchive offers unique value to its members, as one of the only examples of an independent member-owned cooperative that supports decentralized, risk-mitigating digital preservation storage. As a cooperative, MetaArchive thrives on the investments that its members make to the organization. These investments, however, have become increasingly difficult for MetaArchive members to sustain over time. As IT infrastructure in academia and cultural heritage organizations is overwhelmingly outsourced to the cloud, maintaining an on-premise node for a network like MetaArchive starts to be seen as a “boutique” service that is untenable for some of our members. This shifting IT landscape has also made it difficult for current and prospective members to advocate internally for membership in an organization like MetaArchive, because the value of distributed, decentralized digital preservation storage may not be well-understood. These shifts obscure the fact that MetaArchive, as a long-standing consortial effort between academic and cultural heritage organizations, is uniquely positioned to provide responsible stewardship for digital materials and advance digital preservation work across the field.

The digital stewardship commitments made by MetaArchive operate on an inherently longer timescale and look to a fundamentally different set of impact measures than other kinds of digital work. Knowing this helps us define our success by our ability to build capacity for our collective action initiatives, anticipate change, adapt our ways of working, and think strategically about resourcing. This definition of success for community-driven digital preservation guides the current work of the Community Research Task Force. The task force’s primary objective is to research, document, and present information about the current state of the community, and to make an evidence-based recommendation to broader membership regarding MetaArchive’s strategic directions.

In this current change process, MetaArchive is grounded in its core mission of engaging in sustainable digital preservation through community collaboration, while operating with the knowledge that we cannot expect a different result by trying the same things. We have to do things differently to get the long term success we are all working towards. In this case, doing things differently means:

Addressing the costs of existing technical debt

In the first quarter of 2023, we have created an ideal operations budget, intended to move MetaArchive out of an austerity mindset and into a more sustainable resourcing model. In the second quarter of 2023, we are researching and proposing different fundraising strategies to the membership that may help us reach these goals.

Improving the ability of the cooperative to plan for contingencies

In the first quarter of 2023, we created and updated several procedural governance documents, including an operating reserve policy and a contingency plan for sunsetting the network. During this process, we spoke to a number of other digital preservation networks about their own practices for succession and contingency planning. We are also exploring partnerships with other networks and services, as well as a strategic reassessment of our infrastructure, that will make MetaArchive more resilient to change.

Identifying the service capabilities that need to be developed in order to meaningfully lower the barrier to entry for participation in the network

In the second quarter of 2023, we are engaging in one-on-one conversations with all members, gathering information about current barriers to participation in the network. We have identified both ingest and reporting functionalities as major areas for improvement, and we are working in partnership with the LOCKSS team at Stanford to identify areas for improvement and support between MetaArchive and LOCKSS. Another area of focus for this work is revisiting our pricing model, in order to make sure that MetaArchive is lowering financial barriers where possible in order to foster an equitable approach to digital preservation.

We recognize that MetaArchive’s future not only impacts our own members, but also our strategic partners, stakeholders, and the broader digital preservation community. The success of community-driven digital preservation rests on a framework of transparency and deep collaboration, and we are moving through this process in that spirit. If you have any questions about this work and MetaArchive’s future directions, please contact the Leadership Team at ma_leadership@metaarchive.org.

MetaArchive Community Research Task Force (May – July 2023)

Reid Boehm
Brandon Locke
Shanna Smith
Zach Vowell
Hannah Wang
Christine Wiseman

Thank you to the previous members of the MetaArchive Community Research Task Force (January – April 2023) for all of their work and leadership:

Alex Kinnaman
Jessica Meyerson
Nathan Tallman

November 28, 2022

Announcing the 2023 MetaArchive Leadership Team Candidates

The MetaArchive Cooperative is pleased to announce the candidates for the 2023 Leadership Team election. Details about each position can be found in our Governance Procedures.

Elections will be held from November 28th, 2022 to December 9th, 2022.

Elected Leadership Team members will take office on January 1st, 2023.

The voting representative for each Institutional and Collaborative member will receive a ballot via email on November 28th.

Shanna Smith

Collection Information Specialist, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Running for: Chair

Candidate Statement

Shanna Smith is the Collection Information Specialist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (ISGM). Since starting at ISGM in 2020, she has gradually become more involved in the MetaArchive Cooperative. She currently serves as the secretary of the Leadership Team and co-chair of the Membership Services Committee. She looks forward to 2023 and the opportunity to continue to contribute to and serve the MetaArchive community.

Christine Wiseman

Head of the Digital Services Department, AUC Woodruff Library

Running for: Chair-Elect

Candidate Statement

As Head of the Digital Services Department at the AUC Woodruff Library, she serves as the primary liaison and technical support for the HBCU Library Alliance’s membership in the MetaArchive Cooperative. She has really enjoyed her role serving as a liaison to the Alliance, hosting the LOCKSS server, and advocating for the preservation and access of collections from HBCUs. Recently, there is escalating interest among HBCU Library Alliance members in expanding the breadth and depth of their digital presence, and Christine looks forward to integrating digital preservation into that effort. Involvement in the MetaArchive Cooperative has provided the AUC Woodruff Library staff with opportunities to contribute to the profession in enriching ways including serving on committees and working groups. They have expanded their expertise and knowledge around digital preservation practices and broadened their network of professional contacts. Membership in MetaArchive has tangentially connected them with high profile grant projects including the Library Publishing Coalition Workflows Project and the OssArcFlow (Born Digital Archival Workflows) Documentation Project.

Christine has gained much professionally from her involvement in MetaArchive during her tenure at AUC. As the cooperative finds itself at a pivotal moment of change, she hopes she can contribute to the vision and forward progression as the MetaArchive Cooperative approaches two decades of providing community based digital preservation.

Hannah Pryor

Archivist for University Records and Records Manager, University of Louisville

Running for: Secretary

Candidate Statement

Hannah Pryor is an archives and records management professional with 7+ years of experience in state government and higher education. She currently works at the University of Louisville as their Archivist for University Records and Records Manager and often works with born-digital and digitized university records. She has previously served as recording secretary for the Oklahoma Archivists Association and the board of commissioners for a state agency. Currently a member of the Membership Services Committee, she would love the opportunity to get more involved and use her organizational skills to serve MetaArchive.