Our cultural, historic, and scientific heritage is increasingly being produced and shared in digital forms. The ubiquity, pervasiveness, variability, and fluidity of such content raise a range of questions about the role of research libraries and archives in digital preservation in the face of rapid organizational and technological changes and evolving organizational priorities. Ithaka S+R is interested in exploring the current landscape of digital preservation programs and services in order to identify research and policy questions that will contribute to the advancement of strategies in support of future scholarship. To this end, during June and July 2018, I talked with 21 experts and thought leaders to hear their perspectives on the state of digital preservation.
The purpose of this report is to share a number of common themes that permeated through the conversations and provide an opportunity for broader community reaction and engagement, which will over time contribute to the development of an Ithaka S+R research agenda in these areas.
The digital preservation ecology is rich with many initiatives and significant contributors. Rather than making broad generalizations, this paper aims to provide a snapshot of what is going through the minds of a selected group of individuals with expertise and responsibility in the related program areas. The primary goal of the interviews was to identify opportunities and needs, rather than to celebrate the successes of the community. Therefore, inevitably, the report focuses on the gaps and challenges, with more limited coverage of the significant advances that have been registered in the field during the last two decades. We recognize the substantial contributions of the individuals interviewed, all the members of their organizations, and the field more broadly. Through their valuable work we see the beginning groundwork for a technical, service, and policy infrastructure. The community is getting larger and stronger and is committed to exploring how we can strengthen collaborations in this complicated landscape.