NISO Forum Put Spotlight on Digital Preservation Issues

Baltimore, MD -- March 18, 2008 -- The National Information Standards Organization first forum in 2008 was held March 14th on Digital Preservation: Planning Today for Tomorrow's Resources in Washington, D.C. This educational event focused on business practices in the collection management phase to ensure the longevity of digital collections.
Evan Owens, Chief Technology Officer, Portico opened the day with a keynote on "Long-Term Preservation and Standards: An Uneasy Alliance." Owens provided an overview of the current landscape of long-term digital preservation and of the related standards, and then considered the use of standards in e-journal preservation illustrated by real examples from his work at Portico. Owens noted that the title of his talk was due to the inherent conflict between standards and diversity, stating "We depend on standards to make modern life possible. And yet if everything is exactly the same, we have a monoculture [and] are at risk for catastrophic failure." He ended his discussion with questions for the future, emphasizing that digital preservation is still very new and therefore calls for a combined approach of standards and best practices alongside diversity to "hedge our bets."

Other speakers and topics were:

  • Lucille T. Nowell, Program Director - Data, Data Analysis & Visualization, Office of Cyberinfrastructure, National Science Foundation, who addressed the global challenge of the data preservation imperative and the role that NSF is playing, including Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network Partners (DataNet), which will award this year two projects with $20 million over five years (with three more awards expected in 2008);
  • PALINET's Program Director for New Initiatives, Tom Clareson, who looked at "Digital Preservation Readiness" and shared issues of risk management, planning, and the results of the digital preservation survey project being conducted by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC);
  • Katherine Skinner, Executive Director, Educopia Institute & Digital Projects Librarian, Emory University, talking about The MetaArchive Cooperative, including lessons learned around technical infrastructure, curating collections, and organizational infrastructure;
  • Tom Garnett, addressing how the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' Biodiversity Heritage Library, where he is Program Director, is approaching digital preservation, including their strategies in three areas: scientific and scholarly support, financial sustainability, and the "Long Now" strategy;
  • Deborah Thomas, Program Coordinator, and David Brunton, Project Manager, National Digital Newspaper Program, Library of Congress, who covered mitigating preservation threats as well as how to provide enduring access to the NDNP;
  • Robert McDonald, Chronopolis Project Manager, Digital Preservation Initiatives Group, San Diego Super Computing Center, whose presentation shared "An Overview of the Chronopolis Digital Preservation Framework: A Collaborative DataGrid Approach to Distributed Preservation"; and
  • Adam Chesler, Assistant Director, Library Relations and Customer Service, American Chemical Society on "The CLOCKSS Initiative and Requirements for a Distributed Digital Preservation," where he looked also at the questions of what should be preserved, how, and for whom.

Ex Libris provided major sponsorship for the forum, which was held at the Holiday Inn on the Hill in Washington, DC. Slides from the event are now available on the NISO Digital Preservation Forum website, at

About the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
NISO fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More information about NISO is available on its website: