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.

February 1, 2022

MetaArchive Explores Next-Generation Digital Preservation Solutions

The MetaArchive Cooperative has begun a multi-phase research and development project to create a modern distributed digital preservation system. The primary goal is to leverage technical infrastructure advancements in the commercial sector to simplify digital preservation systems and make them more sustainable. These advancements include software defined storage, self-healing file systems, and functions-as-a-service. MetaArchive Technical Committee co-chair Nathan Tallman recently had a journal article published that explores these concepts further.

MetaArchive is partnering with Keeper Technology (KeeperTech) on this project. KeeperTech, based in Virginia, has deep expertise in building modern, secure, and integral data storage and processing solutions for corporations and government agencies. This multi-phase project has exit ramps for either partner at the conclusion of each phase, when specific proposals for the next phase will be developed and approved.

Phase 1 of this project, estimated to take between 2-3 months, will be a collaborative exploration and definition of functional requirements for a distributed digital preservation system. Phase 2 will build on these requirements with KeeperTech developing a prototype system. Phase 3 will consider options for production deployment and implementation alongside LOCKSS, long used by MetaArchive to achieve bit-level digital preservation. All three phases will occur alongside the day-to-day operations and maintenance on the MetaArchive network.

MetaArchive and KeeperTech kicked off Phase 1 in earnest in January 2022. Community Facilitator Hannah Wang and Technical Committee co-chair Nathan Tallman have recently met with the KeeperTech team to share demonstrations of LOCKSS and Conspectus (MetaArchive’s tool for creating archival units in LOCKSS). Bonnie Gordon, from MetaArchive member Rockefeller Archive Center, also presented Archivematica and discussed digital preservation workflows. Soon, KeeperTech will engage the Cooperative with a questionnaire and focus groups to identify current functional requirements of the community. MetaArchive has already provided several inputs into this process to KeeperTech including prioritized, ranked, and justified criteria for digital preservation storage using the Digital Preservation Storage Criteria; a SWOT analysis of LOCKSS; and OSSArcFlow workflow analysis diagrams.

MetaArchive is excited to engage in this important work to advance the digital preservation community. Functional requirements and software code from the project will be openly-licensed and shared with the community for feedback at the end of each phase. We look forward to being able to share the first outputs.

November 15, 2021

Announcing the MetaArchive 2021 Leadership Team Candidates

The MetaArchive Cooperative is pleased to announce the candidates for the 2021 Leadership Team election. Details about each position can be found in our Governance Procedures.

Elections will be held from November 22nd, 2021 to December 10th, 2021.

Elected Leadership Team members will take office on January 1st, 2022.

The voting representative for each Institutional and Collaborative member will receive a ballot via email on November 22nd.

Bonnie Gordon

Rockefeller Archive Center

Running for: Chair-Elect


Bonnie Gordon is a Digital Archivist at the Rockefeller Archive Center, where she focuses on digital preservation, born digital records, and training around technology. Previously, she worked at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. She received her M.A. in Archives and Public History from New York University and her B.A. in History from Purchase College, SUNY.

Election Statement

I have been actively involved in many open source communities, including other communities housed by Educopia. I think open source communities and infrastructure are vital for sustainable digital preservation, and therefore I am looking forward to the opportunity to take an active role in leading the MetaArchive Cooperative’s efforts. I am also excited to bring the perspective of the Rockefeller Archive Center, an independent archives and research center. While longtime members of the Cooperative, we had paused while we solidified our digital preservation policies and digital infrastructure. As we ramp back up, I hope to help advance the MetaArchive community’s goals.

Alex Kinnaman

Virginia Tech

Running for: Treasurer


I joined the Virginia Tech University Libraries as the Digital Preservation Coordinator in 2017. I have a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My work at Virginia Tech is largely policy writing, collaborating on developing and implementing preservation workflows, and consulting with my colleagues on preservation needs. My research interests are in repository certification metrics, digital preservation documentation, and the preservation of 3D objects and Digital Humanities projects. We are currently in the process of responding to a CoreTrustSeal application for our Digital Libraries Platform. I reside in Blacksburg, VA, I enjoy reading, running, and all things spooky, and my cats Finn and Opal who can’t wait to talk to people on my video calls!

Election Statement

I am running for the Treasurer position. Last fall I was elected into the position of Secretary on the Leadership Team, which has given me a higher-level experience in the MetaArchive Cooperative. I have also served as the co-chair for the Outreach Committee since fall 2020 and work with many fantastic committee members to increase engagement and reach in the digipres community. I believe that serving as Treasurer will be an excellent opportunity for me to engage further with MetaArchive and help make decisions that will further progress our community, as well as an opportunity for personal growth. I look forward to serving and to helping support the forward-movement of MetaArchive. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Shanna Smith

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Running for: Secretary


Shanna Smith is the Collection Information Specialist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the current co-chair of the Membership Services Committee. She holds a MLIS from Simmons University and has worked in libraries, universities, and museums.

Election Statement

I am excited by the opportunity to serve in the Secretary Position for the Leadership Team. As co-chair of the Membership Services Committee I’m familiar with the importance of recording and distributing minutes form all Leadership Team Meetings. I am humbled by the nomination and if elected I look forward to share my unique institutional experience and support MetaArchive community in this position in the coming year.

July 27, 2021

MetaArchive’s New Mission, Vision, and Values

The MetaArchive Cooperative is pleased to introduce the community to MetaArchive’s newly revised Mission, Vision, and Values Statement.

MetaArchive Mission: “To engage in sustainable digital preservation through community collaboration.”

MetaArchive Vision: “Preserving the past, harnessing the present, preparing for the future”

Revising and developing our Mission and Vision began in 2019 as part of the Changing for Continued Impact (CFCI) series. We wanted to ensure that what the MetaArchive stands for and abides by is reflected in our Mission and Vision statements and to revisit our values as a community. This discussion took an entire session of the CFCI process where all members were given time to brainstorm in a shared document and generate a list of potential options for both the Mission and Vision statements. Small groups were assigned to workshop the lists to finalize a few options individually and report back to the community. The end of CFCI did not bring any final decisions as we had so many moving parts coming together at that point. Recently the Leadership Team revisited the previous notes to explore options and continue workshopping. After narrowing down the options, the Leadership Team presented them to the community for feedback.

Our new Values Statement is an updated version of our previous Operational Principles that better reflects our revised Mission and Vision statements:

  • Encourage and support the long-term preservation of digital content;
  • Promote a cooperative, robust, and decentralized approach to digital preservation;
  • Encourage archives, libraries, research institutes, museums, and other such organizations to build their own preservation infrastructures and knowledge rather than outsourcing this core service to external vendors;
  • Encourage the growth of distributed digital preservation networks for preserving copies of replicated content in secure, distributed locations over time;
  • Maintain a minimal overhead and straightforward mechanisms for collaboration;
  • Administer services that have wide applicability to a range of organizations and digital content;
  • Utilize and create open standards and systems;
  • Ensure that digital materials are stored and maintained in migratable formats and data structures;
  • Promote and support high standards for preservation metadata capture;
  • Undertake research and development projects to advance digital preservation best practices

In addition to these values, we support and adhere to the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values.

MetaArchive looks forward to upholding our new guiding statements and supporting our community. If you have any questions please contact Community Facilitator Hannah Wang at hannah.wang@educopia.org.

June 17, 2021

MetaArchive Announces New Membership Levels

The MetaArchive Cooperative is very happy to announce that we are now welcoming new and returning members under our new membership levels! These new levels and terms signal exciting changes for the Cooperative.

These changes were driven by the MetaArchive members during and after the Changing for Continued Impact (CFCI) Series, a program of intensive evaluations of both our organizational model and our technical approaches to distributed digital preservation. For more information about the outcomes of CFCI, see the blog post written by Matt Schultz, former MetaArchive Community Facilitator.

The new membership levels were authored by two long-time members of the Cooperative, Rachel Howard from the University of Louisville and Deanna Ulvestad from the Greene County Public Library in Ohio, and unanimously approved by the MetaArchive Steering Committee on December 14, 2020.

So what has changed?

Simplified Membership Levels

Here is the nitty gritty of what has actually changed with the membership options offered by MetaArchive:

Pre-2021 2021 and beyond
Sustaining Members: Single organizations that provided leadership for the Cooperative and engaged in preservation activities.

Annual fee: $5,500 (+ technology fee, if applicable)

Preservation Members: Single organizations that engaged in preservation activities.

Annual fee: $3,000 (+ technology fee, if applicable)

Institutional Members: Single organizations that provide leadership for the Cooperative and engage in preservation activities.

Annual fee: $4,000

Collaborative Members: Groups of institutions (often consortia) that engaged in preservation activities.

Annual fee: $2,500 + $100/member (+ technology fee, if applicable)

Collaborative Members: Groups of institutions (often consortia) that provide leadership for the Cooperative and engage in preservation activities.

Annual fee: $4,000 + $100/member

Individual Members: Individual practitioners who can now join the Cooperative for free in order to learn about and participate in the community

Annual fee: None

Each Institutional and Collaborative member designates one Voting Representative, and anyone from an Institutional or Collaborative member organization is eligible to serve in a leadership position.

As an incentive for new organizations joining the MetaArchive Cooperative under these terms, we are offering 50% off your first year of membership!

NEW! Storage Rewards

MetaArchive members are given the option to host a LOCKSS cache at their organization. LOCKSS caches are the backbone of the MetaArchive Technical Network – content is geographically distributed across multiple caches, which automatically check in with each other to verify that the content remains complete and identical over time.

In past years, members who have opted not to host LOCKSS caches have paid a $1,000 technology fee instead. With the new membership terms, we have flipped that structure: instead of charging members who do not host caches, we are rewarding members who do host caches. This is in recognition of the time, labor, and money that is involved in setting up and maintaining a LOCKSS cache.

Under the new storage rewards system, members who host a LOCKSS cache receive 10% of contributed storage volume free. This means that, if you provide 48 TB of storage volume through your LOCKSS cache, you will be able to ingest and store 4.8 TB of digital content in the network for free. Any storage used beyond that 10% will be subject to annual storage fees (as of 2021, $0.50/GB/year).

NEW! Individual Memberships

We are most excited to start implementing the Individual Membership option. In the past, if an individual left their MetaArchive member organization, or if their organization left the Cooperative, there was no way for those practitioners to continue to engage in MetaArchive. This community is tight-knit and filled with exciting voices in the field – it is a loss to say goodbye to any of those people!

These new Individual Memberships allow practitioners to join the Cooperative for free. This opens the door not only to former members, but also to any practitioners without a MetaArchive affiliation who are interested in learning about distributed digital preservation and engaging with this community. Individual Members cannot make use of the MetaArchive Technical Network for the preservation of digital collections, and they do not have voting rights in the Cooperative. Individual members can, however, attend meetings, serve on committees, and engage with other members in peer mentoring programs.

We have already begun welcoming new Individual Members to the Cooperative, and we are excited to spread the word! Reach out to Hannah Wang, MetaArchive Community Facilitator, at hannah.wang@educopia.org if you are interested in joining as an Individual Member.

Learn More

Head over to Join Us to learn more about our membership options. If you are ready to take the plunge and talk to someone about membership, get in touch with Hannah Wang, Community Facilitator, at hannah.wang@educopia.org.

March 25, 2020

MetaArchive Member Profile: University of Louisville Archives & Special Collections

By: Kyna Herzinger, Archivist for Record Management, and Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian

MetaArchive Member Profiles

Tell us a bit about the digital preservation program at your organization?

Our colleague, Rare Books Curator Delinda Buie, happened to be in the right place at the right time when Martin Halbert and others discussed applying for an NDIIPP (National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program) grant to explore distributed digital preservation at an ARL (Association of Research Libraries) meeting in 2003. At the time, UofL did not have a formal digitization program, but the Special Collections department, in which Delinda worked, had been doing ad hoc digitization for customer orders and exhibits for several years. The successful NDIIPP grant evolved into the MetaArchive Cooperative, and locally led to the creation of the Digital Initiatives program, in which Rachel Howard has served since 2006 and has overseen Digital Collections of cultural heritage materials and an institutional repository of university scholarship. UofL’s digital preservation efforts focused on digitized images and oral histories. In 2017, after Kyna Herzinger had joined the team, UofL took steps to develop a framework for a digital preservation program, drafting policies, exploring tools, and documenting workflows.  At that time, UofL’s digital preservation expanded to include born-digital university records, oral histories, and community collections.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about, or what’s on the horizon for your program?

In terms of content, we are looking forward to preserving our electronic theses and dissertations, which are currently backed up in the cloud. We plan to establish a workflow to have them harvested into the MetaArchive network. In terms of maturing our overall program, we have identified two areas of focus. Having no single position that is responsible for handling born-digital content, we are still ensuring that our curators can accession and process their own born-digital collections.  This means fine-tuning workflows. We are also starting to shift focus toward improving access to born-digital content, both in terms of discovery and researcher support.

“We both enjoy knowing a welcoming community of people who are engaged in similar work and are always willing to share advice or lend an ear. As we assess the resources at our disposal, we are especially cognizant of the role that MetaArchive plays as our most robust storage option. It provides what we could not have done ourselves: secure, distributed, bit-level preservation.”
In photo, L-R: Rachel Howard, Kyna Herzinger

Tell us a bit about your local workflow. How has the MetaArchive preservation storage service been incorporated?

For digitized content, after creating master and access files and metadata and launching a digital collection to the public, Rachel would copy master files and an XML file of the metadata to a staging server and organize them into archival units (AUs) of acceptable size for ingest into the MetaArchive network. The size of those AUs grew over time as we tested network capabilities, so that, for example, our yearbooks, whose master files ballooned to as much as 50 GB per yearbook, could each be treated as a single AU, thus requiring less “data wrangling”. She would then create a manifest page and (as was required in the early days) plugin, document the locations of those files and the AUs in the MetaArchive Conspectus database, and then work with MetaArchive partners to test and then ingest the collection into the preservation storage network. 

Now, with born-digital content, we use the BagIt profile specification, and recently participated in the MetaArchive’s SuperNode Pilot project, testing Bagit + OwnCloud and Exactly + SFTP to ingest content into the network.

Tell us about your experience in participating in the MetaArchive community. How has it influenced you or your work?

We both enjoy knowing a welcoming community of people who are engaged in similar work and are always willing to share advice or lend an ear. Working together with this group has also provided us with  opportunities for research and professional leadership/ service at an international level. As we assess the resources at our disposal, we are especially cognizant of the role that the MetaArchive plays as our most robust storage option.  It provides what we could not have done ourselves: secure, distributed, bit-level preservation.

Tell us a bit about your experience participating in the Changing for Continued Impact Series? What have been some of your key takeaways from the series thus far?

It has been reenergizing to connect in a more focused way with the partners as we talk about the past, present, and future of the Cooperative. The series has provided reassurance that growing pains are normal, that challenges are opportunities for growth, and that it is better to be proactive about change than to wait until circumstances demand an immediate reaction.We appreciate being part of a community in which we have a say in its future.

Editorial note: “Since late 2019 the MetaArchive community has been undergoing a series of intensive evaluations of both their organizational model as well as their technical approaches to distributed digital preservation (DDP). This is the Changing for Continued Impact (CFCI) Series, a facilitated framework led by Educopia that engages the MetaArchive members in a series of focused-discussions and work-sessions. This generative and co-creative process got underway in earnest this past Fall 2019, and will continue through Spring 2020 leading up to the next Annual MetaArchive Membership Meeting.”

February 3, 2020

MetaArchive Member Profile: Indianapolis Public Library

By: William Knauth, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Digital Indy

MetaArchive Member Profiles

Tell us a bit about the digital preservation program at your organization?

The Digital Indy project has been a member of InDiPres since 2017, previous to this there had been concerns about the integrity and longevity of the digital archival collections being created by the project and an analysis found that the level of preservation and cost associated with InDiPres was the best available. The primary work of preparing and transferring digital collections to the InDiPres server is done as part of the role of the Metadata Specialist, as well as communication with the InDiPres and MetaArchive groups. I regularly attend and participate at meetings of these organizations and report back developments to the team at the library. As far as goals and visions for our involvement with this project I would be very pleased if we are able to preserve 100% of our large digital collections in the MetaArchive network by 2021. I would also like to see the ongoing Supernode efforts materialize into an efficient streamlined ingest system that would attract new members to InDiPres and MetaArchive.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about, or what’s on the horizon for your program?

We are presently working on getting more of our collections data ingested into MetaArchive as well as setting up firm and effective workflows for sending data to the InDiPres staging server after some technical issues have placed this on hold. I am excited to see how this will be made more efficient by some of the projects being worked on at MetaArchive.

MetaArchive Member Profile: Indianapolis Public Library
“We are presently working on getting more of our collections data ingested into MetaArchive as well as setting up firm and effective workflows for sending data to the InDiPres staging server after some technical issues have placed this on hold. I am excited to see how this will be made more efficient by some of hte projects being worked on at MetaArchive.”

Pictured, L-R: William Knauth, Victoria Duncan, Beth Franklin, and Meaghan Fukunaga (formerly of InDiPres)

Tell us a bit about your local workflow. How has the MetaArchive preservation storage service been incorporated?

Our team has not had to significantly alter the established workflows in the initial areas of organizing and describing collections. The current standards we use are sufficiently robust as to create results that are effective for preservation purposes. We have had to make some additions to the workflows for successful ingest. This has involved processing collections through data integrity programs like Bagger and Exactly, setting up online transfer protocols, and creating documentation for preservation status of collections.

Tell us about your experience in participating in the MetaArchive community. How has it influenced you or your work?

I have had a positive experience meeting and working with the MetaArchive community in the several years of my involvement with the organization. I have found the membership to be very informed about both their own digital preservation situation and the state of this field of expertise in general. It has been useful and beneficial to have a group of individuals facing similar challenges to share ideas and solutions with.

January 14, 2020

MetaArchive Member Profile: Purdue University

By: Sandi Caldrone and Michael Witt

MetaArchive Member Profiles

Tell us a bit about the digital preservation program at your organization?

The Purdue University Research Repository, also known as PURR (insert cat joke here), is one of a couple of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies repositories which utilize MetaArchive for preservation storage. PURR is a university core research facility provided by the Libraries, the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, and Information Technology at Purdue. It provides an online, collaborative working space, data sharing, and publication platform for Purdue researchers and their collaborators. PURR also provides preservation support for published datasets and the MetaArchive Cooperative is a huge part of that preservation support.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about, or what’s on the horizon for your program?

We’ve recently started to talk with faculty members who create virtual reality (VR) environments and objects as part of their research. VR preservation is an exciting and challenging new area for us and we are looking into how our platform and preservation workflows can support the preservation of VR objects and what new features or support we might need to develop down the road.

“We’ve recently started to talk with faculty members who create virtual reality (VR) environments and objects as part of their research. VR preservation is an exciting and challenging new area for us and we are looking into how our platform and preservation workflows can support VR preservation and what new features we might need to develop down the road.”

Pictured back row L-R: Standa Pejša, Carly Dearborn, Matthew Kroll, Michael Witt. Front row L-R: Clair Stirm, Anthony Fuentes, Sandi Caldrone, and Yanqun Kuang.

Tell us a bit about your local workflow. How has the MetaArchive preservation storage service been incorporated?

We were lucky to have been still developing PURR when the Libraries joined the MetaArchive Cooperative and were able to develop our preservation infrastructure with a distributed model in mind. We use BagIt bags to package our datasets and metadata for preservation.

We also regularly try to think through a “fire drill” scenario—what would we do if we experience partial loss of content in our repository? This has proven to be a great way for us to interrogate the construction of our archival units and determine if we have embedded the necessary metadata to rebuild our local repository from our backups in MetaArchive.

Tell us about your experience in participating in the MetaArchive community. How has it influenced you or your work?

Digital Preservation is hard work, and MetaArchive has a demonstrated track record of success with the biggest challenges of digital preservation, which aren’t related to storage or technology, but governance and sustainability. It is so valuable to have a built-in community to troubleshoot the various issues that arise in digital processing, preservation planning, and everything in between. The MetaArchive Cooperative represents a mature solution and community—it isn’t a flash in the pan.

February 27, 2019

New Steering Committee Chair – Carly Dearborn

Below is a message from Carly Dearborn, Digital Preservation and Electronic Records Archivist at Purdue University Libraries, who became Chair of the MetaArchive Steering Committee in January 2019.

When Purdue University joined the MetaArchive Cooperative in 2013, I was not aware of how  valuable to my professional life this community and its members would be. At its core, the MetaArchive is a distributed digital preservation network. But at its heart it is a dynamic community of practice – a community I have consulted many times in the last six years and one I am now excited to serve as Chair of the Steering Committee.

As the digital preservation and electronic records archivist at Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies, my work, by nature, is pragmatic. I hope to bring that pragmatism to the Steering Committee during my time as chair. The broad digital preservation principles and theory can seem far removed from practitioners who face the daily challenges of limited technical support, resources, time, and staffing. MetaArchive has has done well addressing these issues in the past and I hope to continue that work.

I am excited to work with the MetaArchive membership, committees, and community partners as we collectively pivot to meet emerging digital preservation challenges – both technical and organizational. MetaArchive initiatives like the Super Node Pilot Project address the digital preservation needs of small and large institutions alike, with a focus on sustainability and cost effective approaches to digital preservation. This project represents the very best of MetaArchive membership – collaboration of like-minded institutions and individuals around issues of shared importance. The lessons learned from the Super Node project, as with previous projects, will be shared with the larger digital preservation community, furthering the Cooperative’s commitment to transparency. I look forward to working with the Steering Committee to continue to redefine what transparency looks like in the digital preservation field and build on past efforts to critique the costs of digital preservation services.

2019 will be another exciting year for the MetaArchive Cooperative as we build on many of the same principles the community was founded on in 2004. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments at cdearbor@purdue.edu.

December 11, 2018

Message from the Steering Committee on DPN Sunset Announcement

Digital preservation is all about the long game. For the institutions and individuals working to ensure long-term access to our collective digital scholarly and cultural record, there is a shared understanding that our efforts today are part of a continuum that will continue well beyond our current contributions and participation. But understanding and recognition of this reality are only starting points. The way we go about this work, the structures we build, the strategies and approaches we implement, the relationships we foster and strengthen are all integral elements that impact our collective ability to be successful in this digital preservation endeavor. Technology is going to continue to change rapidly and the tools, infrastructure, and mechanisms we develop and implement in response will inevitably change, or disappear. Some technologies will fail quickly, others may work for a time but then wither because they are no longer relevant, or resources are no longer available to maintain and improve them.

The announcement of sunsetting of the Digital Preservation Network (DPN) represents a significant moment in the digital preservation community. It is one that we are saddened by, and recognize that many institutions will be affected by this event, including DPN members, partners, and collaborators. When such an organization ceases operations, those that have connections to it may feel an undercurrent of instability moving through the digital preservation community. In this case, though, our hope is that the closure instead amplifies the stability that we, as a library, archives, and museum community, are fostering through our deliberate collaborations across digital preservation communities.

Specifically, in anticipation (as we must anticipate!) that not all services or communities will last “forever,” a number of digital preservation communities and organizations began to gather together in 2009 with the Library of Congress to discuss how best to bridge our efforts to attain our overarching goal of protecting the digital heritage entrusted to each of us. This work ebbed and flowed over the last decade, most recently culminating in the development of the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values. Issued by representatives of Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), Chronopolis, CLOCKSS, Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), Digital Preservation Network (DPN), DuraSpace, Educopia/MetaArchive Cooperative, HathiTrust, Stanford University – LOCKSS, Texas Digital Library (TDL), Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL), the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values represents the efforts of these organizations to formulate a set of shared foundational values that can serve as a basis for continued collaboration and support. While the sunsetting of DPN as an organization may illustrate the aspirational nature of these values, it also emphasizes the importance of the collective approach to their creation, where multiple digital preservation services providers came together to establish a foundation upon which to base future collaborations as well as peer-to-peer assessment and accountability. There is a spirit of cooperation that permeates throughout the digital preservation community, and we will continue to be stronger and more successful if we build upon this through increased collaboration.

All that said this is a useful moment for reflecting and taking stock of the reality that all of us are doing our work in risk-filled environments. Organizational structures are very important. The organizational environment in which digital preservation technical infrastructure, tools, and systems are developed, tested, implemented, and retired have a direct impact on their longevity and sustainability. Recognizing the risk of a single point of failure phenomenon, the distributed digital preservation approach seeks to harness the collective efforts of multiple institutions to work together and take responsibility for preserving each other’s digital content. But distributing copies of the bits is the easy (relatively) part. Establishing and evolving the apparatus of community governance, wherein multiple institutions commit to active participation in shared ownership and strategic decision-making is challenging, but absolutely necessary to weathering the technological storms of the future.

For the MetaArchive Cooperative, while setting up a distributed digital preservation storage network using the LOCKSS software took a good amount of time, effort, and funding, creating the policies and procedures for community governance required significantly more resources and years of time investment. The result of this effort is a healthy, stable community whose principles are embedded within it’s regular technical and administrative operations. At the top of the list of these principles is transparency. All MetaArchive documentation, from committee meeting minutes to financial reports and budgets are openly available to members and can be requested by non-members. All members have an opportunity to provide input in strategic decisions, including structural changes such as membership fees. Transparency is always a work-in-progress, requiring continual effort and attention, but is essential for ensuring accountability and fostering an environment of community ownership and participation. This embrace of transparency led to the creation of the “Getting to the Bottom Line: 20 Cost Questions for Digital Preservation” by the MetaArchive Outreach Committee in 2015. This resource received very positive feedback from the larger digital preservation community, and remains a useful starting place for institutions evaluating digital preservation service / solution providers.

MetaArchive is itself in the midst of a transition to evolve its infrastructure in response to the changes in institutional needs and practices. We are committed to sharing what we learn during this process with the larger community, and collaborating with our peer community-based digital preservation service providers, in alignment with the recent messages from DPN and Duraspace on discussing lessons learned and strategies for increasing sustainability within and across our organizations.

We welcome any questions or feedback.

December 4, 2018

MetaArchive Quarterly Newsletter Launch!

The MetaArchive Cooperative is delighted to announce and share our first quarterly newsletter! In it, you’ll find a wealth of information on our most recent activities, including an brief overview of our SuperNode Pilot Project, plus member snapshots and new publications from community members.

If you’d like to receive future editions of the newsletter and other community announcements, please be sure to subscribe here. For those of you who may not be familiar, the MetaArchive Cooperative is member-owned and governed community that operates a geographically distributed digital preservation storage network, that currently includes 15 secure, closed-access preservation nodes and more than 200TB of content. More than just a storage solution, MetaArchive is a community of practice that provides support for members who are developing local digital preservation workflows, policies, and best practices.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at sam@educopia.org.

We hope to see you on our newsletter list!

September 25, 2018

Announcing the SuperNode Pilot Project

Since its inception, the MetaArchive Cooperative has been a community of practice built on a foundation of individuals and institutions collaborating to empower and enable each other to accomplish digital preservation goals. This structure of this collaboration is embedded within the implementation of the LOCKSS software, where member institutions store copies of each others content, achieving geographic distribution to protect against various types of risks and loss. Now going 12 years strong, this award-winning service has proved to be a trustworthy, durable solution for digital preservation storage and a community of support for practitioners.

At the same time a lot has changed in the digital preservation landscape over the last decade. More and more academic institutions are moving to cloud-based IT services, including for storage of digital content. Institutions can choose from multiple repository software platforms to integrate into their digital curation and preservation workflows.

While much has changed, what has lingered is who has been left out of this advancement in digital preservation progress. Small institutions, including public libraries, small museums, art galleries, community organizations, still struggle to implement basic digital preservation activities, due to limited IT support, cost of current solutions, and lack of time. Recognizing this continued need, the MetaArchive has focused its efforts on transitioning its technical network infrastructure to simplify the ingest process, making it easier for all member institutions, especially smaller organizations to start preserving their important cultural and scholarly materials.  

The SuperNode Pilot Project, which kicked off in June 2018, is conducting additional testing to determine the feasibility and specific requirements for evolving the technical infrastructure. This includes testing multiple transfer tools (such as AVPreserve’s Exactly), and options for utilizing cloud-based services to “stage” content for ingest to storage nodes hosted at member institutions. A significant aspect of this work will be measuring and analyzing the costs associated with the different “flavors” or versions of a SuperNode network to support a primary driver of continuing to provide an affordable digital preservation storage solution, and if possible, even lower current membership fees.

Set to move into implementation and production in 2019, the SuperNode Pilot Project is positioning the MetaArchive community to stay true to its founding principles while adapting to the changing landscape and responding to the digital preservation needs of small organizations with limited resources.

September 24, 2018

MetaArchive Members and Staff at iPRES 2018

The premiere international digital preservation conference is happening in Boston this year and of course there are going to be multiple MetaArchive members attending! If you are curious to learn more about MetaArchive one of the best ways is to chat up our current members, so if you are also planning to attend iPRES 2018 keep an eye out for local folks Paige Walker from Boston University, David Mathews from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as Deanna Ulvestad from the Greene County Public Library. Also, Nathan Tallman will be presenting a paper titled, “Approaching Appraisal: Framing criteria for selecting digital content for preservation” with Lauren Work from the University of Virginia at session 308 on Wednesday.

Our Community Manager, Sam Meister , is also attending and moderating Session 202 on Digging into the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values with representatives from DPN, APTrust, TDL, and COPPUL. He is happy to chat at any time during the event!

July 19, 2018

Member Deanna Ulvestad to present at CONTENTdm Users Group Meeting 2018

Deanna Ulvestad, archivist at member institution Greene County Public Library, will be presenting during a panel on “Digital Preservation: Case Studies in Preserving Master Files” at this years’ CONTENTdm Users Group Meeting in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, August 2nd. Deanna will share her successes implementing workflows to preserve master files with MetaArchive from the perspective of a small institution. If you are planning to attend, and curious to hear more about MetaArchive from a member’s perspective, please stop by and say hello to Deanna!

August 29, 2017

New member-authored article on digital preservation and failure

We are excited to announce the forthcoming publication of a new article co-authored by Carly Dearborn (Purdue University) and Sam Meister (Educopia/MetaArchive) titled “Failure as process: Interrogating disaster, loss, and recovery in digital preservation”. This article will be published in the upcoming special digital preservation focused issue of Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues In advance of the official release of the article, you can download and read an author accepted version of this article via the Purdue e-pubs repository here.  The authors hope that the article stimulates discussion amongst digital preservation practitioners and welcome any feedback!

July 5, 2017

Celebrating over 10 Years of Community-based Digital Preservation

Since 2007, the MetaArchive Cooperative has preserved the digital collections of more than 60 archives, museums, public libraries, and library consortia in Europe, South America, and across the United States. It has done so in a network run by members, for members.

In celebration of our first decade milestone as a membership organization, our community wants to help more organizations – including smaller and under-resourced libraries, archives, and museums – to preserve their content. To further lower the barriers to entry in our community of practice, our members have designed and launched the following:

  • A new option (in 2017) to pay a technology fee rather than operating a server node within our preservation network.
  • A Collaborative Membership Level that allows many organizations to band together and share their membership costs (see e.g., InDiPres).
  • A simplified and streamlined ingest process using BagIt.

For more details, including how to join the MetaArchive Cooperative, please visit our new and improved website at metaarchive.org or contact sam@educopia.org!

June 15, 2017

MetaArchive members to present at ALA 2017

MetaArchive members Cinda May (Indiana State University / InDiPres) and Deanna Ulvestad (Greene County Public Library) will be presenting on Saturday, June 25, 2017 at the Digital Preservation Interest Group meeting at the 2017 American Library Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Their talk “Removing Barriers and Building Bridges: The MetaArchive Cooperative Preservation Network’s Flexible Membership Structure” will focus on how the MetaArchive cooperative organizational model has continually evolved to better support the digital preservation needs of smaller organizations. More Details »

April 15, 2017

ETD+ Toolkit Now Available

The ETDplus project team is pleased to announce the public release of the ETD+ Toolkit. Targeting students, faculty, and staff, the ETD+ Toolkit is an approach to improving research output management. Focusing on the ETD as a mile-marker in a student’s research trajectory, it provides in-time advice about how to avoid common digital loss scenarios for the ETD and all of its affiliated files. For more information, including how to use, and how to participate in the pilot please go to : https://educopia.org/publications/etdplustoolkit