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The Collation

Digital Stewardship: The one with all the definitions

My residency project at the Folger focuses on digital stewardship and preservation practices at the Library. This has, to my delight, involved getting my hands dirty with the Folger web collections and also allowed me to interact with a variety of digital assets being created by the Folger. Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of web archiving, I’d like to talk a little bit more about digital stewardship and digital assets.

Digital stewardship, digital preservation, digital asset… what’s it all mean? The concepts are simpler than you might think. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: digital information is sensitive. To remain accessible and usable for current and future users, digital information needs to be carefully managed through digital stewardship practices. Digital stewardship encompasses all activities related to the care and management of digital objects over time. Proper digital stewardship addresses all phases of the digital object lifecycle: from digital asset conception, creation, appraisal, description, and preservation, to accessibility, reuse, and beyond. This includes everything from choosing a well-documented and widely accepted file format when creating a new object to choosing the right metadata schema to describe the object properly, not to mention storing multiple copies of the digital object file in a variety of locations to combat threats of data loss or corruption. These latter steps, taken after the object is created and described, generally fall under the category of digital preservation. Digital preservation involves processes related to the protection and technical stabilization of digital assets to facilitate continued and future access and usability. 

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