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Virginia Tech Preservation Policy: Home

The following is the current preservation policy for Virginia Tech University Libraries. The policy is updated as needed to incorporate new technologies and methods. 

Digital Preservation Policy

Mission Statement

To preserve, protect, and provide sustaining access to the cultural and historical heritage of Virginia Tech and the state of Virginia by digitizing, preserving, and providing access to digital assets both from Virginia Tech and from the southwest region of Virginia.

Procedures and Administration

Program Manager: The Associate Director for Digital Imaging and Preservation Services is the program manager for the preservation system.  The University Libraries is ultimately responsible for maintaining the preservation system in order to preserve its unique electronic resources.   

Standards: The Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and the Trusted Digital Repository Model (TDR) will guide the implementation and administration of the preservation system.

Content producers and managers: Content producers and managers, such as VTechWorks, VTechData, Special Collections, and the Digitization Lab, are responsible for communicating preservation needs with the preservation team. They may also decide if they want the responsibility of packaging files and metadata, and using formalized naming conventions in preparation for the preservation system. This role will otherwise be taken by the preservation team.

Digital Preservation Services: Digital Preservation Services is responsible for preservation microservices performed on the content upon ingest, overseeing ingest and transfer of content, and for assessing and improving the preservation system. This also includes developing and updating documentation and relevant policies. The Digital Preservation Services team is also responsible for maintaining expertise and participating in ongoing training in the field.

Library IT: Library IT Services is responsible for managing the hardware according to formalized preservation and migration procedures.



This policy is intended to formalize the purpose, scope, and administration of the preservation system.

The preservation system is a digital preservation system for the archival digital assets, such as digital video and scanned images, produced by Virginia Tech University Libraries. These files require special care because file integrity is essential for continued access and use, and physical copies are either rare, fragile, valuable, or do not exist at all.

While it is desirable to give access to the highest quality content, such files are inherently larger, and their use generates heavier network traffic to the extent that users experience undesirable latency. Therefore, most systems with public interfaces provide access to content which has been compressed to a sufficient extent that its use does not hamper network traffic.  However, the Libraries still need to secure archival quality content as a failsafe for publicly accessible content.

Content Sources

The content processed and preserved by Preservation Services will come directly from the Digital Imaging Lab. See the Selection Scope for Digital Imaging Services for specific information on the selection scope for content.

Digital content sources fall into these general categories:

  1. Virginia Tech-owned and created content, both born-digital and analog objects, including:

    1. Our institutional repository VTechWorks, which contains our theses and dissertations, faculty publications, Event Capture videos, and various collections.

    2. Datasets from our data repository VTechData.

    3. Special Collections content and projects.

    4. Metadata Services' scans for the Virginia Cooperative Extension publications.

    5. Learning objects from our learning object repository Odyssey.

    6. Unique, digitized material that does not exist elsewhere.

  2. Subscription resources, such as electronic journals and databases.

  3. Content relating to our scope of local and regional history and culture. This includes museum artifacts, oral histories, donated collections, etc. from the southwest region of Virginia.

Content Types

Our content sources described above may produce content in the following formats:

  • Images (scanned books, theses and dissertations, digital photographs, architectural drawings): TIFF, JPEG, PDF, PDF/A

  • Audio/video materials (Event Capture service, other videos produced on campus): MOV, MKV, MPEG-4

  • Data/data sets (research data): XML, XLS, XLXS (encourage open when possible by VTD)

  • Textual materials: PDF, TXT

  • Web pages (University-related web pages): HTML, CSS, XSLT, WARC

  • 3D objects

  • Other content (supplementary materials such as disk images, already compressed TAR files): IMG, TAR.GZ

These formats will be transformed into the ideal preservation file formats for each file type as needed. This process will occur either at creation, or through a microservice in our Archivematica instance.

Preservation Formats

Content Type Preservation File Format
Images TIFF, PDF
Audio/Video MOV
Data/Datasets CSV, varies
Textual materials PDF, TXT
Web pages WARC
3D object To be determined

Preservation Strategies

Program Objectives

  • Establish and implement an integrated preservation system, spanning digital imaging and born-digital acquisition, long-term storage and maintenance, and distribution and access. This includes the use of standards and open content formats that are accepted by the digital preservation community.

    • Digital Preservation Services collaborates with the Digital Imaging team and Digital Libraries to integrate workflows for optimal content and metadata preparation and SIP creation.

    • Digital Preservation Services will modify and update current technologies and tools to maintain accepted standards.

    • Digital Preservation services maintains relationships with our storage services APTrust and the MetaArchive Cooperative by retaining memberships and awareness of the contingency plan for any membership withdrawal.

    • The Digital Preservation Services relies on the standards outlined in ISO 16363 as a guide for preservation planning.

  • Compile and compose comprehensive documentation of workflow policies and procedures that can be utilized by all units involved with creation, preservation, and distribution of VT digital assets. This includes:

    • Private documentation for use within the Digital Preservation Services will be centralized in an accessible location with certain access restrictions.

    • Documentation made public to relevant Library faculty and staff for increased collaboration and consultation.

    • Documentation created for public use that explains the purpose of a preservation system and the use and access of preserved content.

  • Maintain active participation in the digital preservation community through memberships and research contributions.

  • Research and develop digital preservation methods and concepts

    • Testing new tools and methods

  • Support the core Digital Preservation Services team through training and development as needed.


The Digital Preservation Services is guided by the following principles. These principles are related to the field of digital preservation, the Digital Imaging and Preservation Services principles, and to the Virginia Tech University Libraries strategic missions and the Research & Informatics Unit core values.

Access & Openness: Access is the ultimate goal of digital preservation. Virginia Tech University Libraries is dedicated to providing open knowledge resources, which extends to long-term access of preserved content. To further support open access, Digital Preservation Services will continue to research and apply open access tools and resources for access to the best of our abilities in order to provide open access to data and information to the world.

Authenticity and Integrity: Digital objects will be created and managed to support authenticity and provenance through metadata, fixity checks, and audit logs. This will ensure trust of scholars and users.

Collaboration: Effective preservation workflows and systems rely on collaboration and sharing information with other University Library departments, across campus, and with other institutions. University Libraries will continue to contribute to and participate in the digital preservation field.

College and Library missions: The Digital Preservation Services aims to support Virginia Tech missions and Virginia Tech University Libraries, a list of which can be found in Appendix C of this document.

Diversity: Digital Preservation Services is dedicated to supporting the diverse perspectives and expertise in the University Libraries and Virginia Tech.

Improving the Human Condition: A primary mission for Virginia Tech and University Libraries is to improve the human condition. Digital Preservation Services aims to support this mission and benefit humans by ensuring long-term access to freely available cultural heritage and historical data.

Intellectual Property: Another aspect of trustworthiness is to maintain access while respecting intellectual property rights of content producers and donors by restricting access to content where appropriate, obtaining proper Memorandums of Understanding, and maintaining accurate creator and rights information in preservation metadata.

Innovation & Sharing: As Digital Preservation Services works to develop an integrated workflow that relies on internal resources and outsourced resources, they are dedicated to documenting successes and obstacles and sharing the results.

Standards and Best Practices: Virginia Tech University Libraries will observe community-accepted standards and practices relating to the preparation, storage, and maintenance of preserved digital content and will strive to obtain formal certification.

Sustainability: With support from the University through Virginia Tech's Strategic Growth Area to produce Economic and Sustainable Materials, Digital Preservation Services aims to provide sustainable access to preserved content.

Training: Digital preservation strategies and tools are constantly evolving. The Digital Preservation Services team will continue to conduct research into new methods, contribute to the field, commit to ongoing training, and maintain current accepted standards in Virginia Tech's preservation system.

Technology: Digital Preservation Services will test, develop, and maintain the appropriate hardware, software, external technologies, and expertise to carry out the preservation policy and preservation system.

Transparency: Trustworthy Digital Repositories are largely characterized by transparency on information regarding current technologies, practices, and access rights. Digital Preservation Services is committed to provide accurate and comprehensive documentation and providing access to this documentation where appropriate.


The Digital Preservation Services choose to outsource our preservation storage. Virginia Tech University Libraries is a member of the MetaArchive Cooperative and Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust). We are dedicated to being actively involved in these communities and strive to ingest material into both storage services equally. We also store copies in our physical storage service VT Archive. Digital Preservation Services prepares the content for ingest and sends one copy to VT Archive and one copy to either APTrust or MetaArchive based on the workflow. Below are the storage services currently employed.

VT Archive: The VT Archive is University-level and held at the VT Corporate Research Center. This storage is on tape back disks. Content is transferred here directly after being processed by Archivematica.

Academic Preservation Trust: APTrust ingests items that have been bagged and uploaded into S3 Buckets.

MetaArchive Cooperative: MetaArchive ingests content using LOCKSS to crawl an XML manifest and harvest content.

Please see the Technologies page for more information on our storage services.

Storage Rationale

Current Location
Managing Department
Content Types
Preservation Storage Location
VTechWorks collections VTechWorks & server Scholarly Communications TAR MetaArchive
Virginia Cooperative Extension publication scans Metadata Services PDF, XLXS, HTML APTrust
Special Collections scans Omeka, ImageBase, server, other locations Special Collections TIFF MetaArchive
Materials digitized by Virginia Tech Digital Creation Suite 'Workng' server/'Preservation' server Digital Imaging/Digital Creation Suite TIFF, CSV To be determined
Event Capture VTechWorks & server Scholarly Communications MOV APTrust
Electronic Theses and Dissertations VTechWorks & server Scholarly Communications


Digitized Bound Theses and Dissertations VTechWorks & server Metadata Services TIFF, PDF APTrust
Datasets VTechData & server Data Services XML, XLS MetaArchive


We have three overarching workflows for preparing content.

The first workflow is for content that has already been digitized or accepted by Virginia Tech Libraries that is separated from its metadata and needs to be pre-processed before upload into storage. The bulk of this workflow is in splitting a single metadata spreadsheet into individual spreadsheets by row and creating folders containing the content and metadata. This is then processed through Archivematica and uploaded to APTrust.

The second workflow is for content that has already been digitized or accepted by Virginia Tech Libraries and relies on exporting collections and bagging them using Bagit specification. The content in this workflow is uploaded to MetaArchive via a LOCKSS plugin.

The third workflow is associated with the larger Digital Imaging and Preservation Services system workflow. Materials produced by the Digital Creation Suite is new content being digitized and held by Virginia Tech University Libraries from internal and external sources. This content will also be packaged, submitted through Archivematica, and uploaded to either APTrust or MetaArchive depending on the size of the collection being uploaded and the space available in either of the subscription storage services.

All content is ingested into the local university storage VT Archive.

Security and Access

To reduce possibility of writing over archival files, and to reduce traffic on the preservation system's OAI compliant server, access to the preservation environment is limited to authorized personnel. This includes access to our Archivematica dashboard and configuration, APTrust repositories, MetaArchive repository, and web archiving dashboard.

The Virginia Tech Web Archive may be publicly viewed on Internet Archive at

In the event of data loss or corruption in our access files, Digital Preservation Services will be notified and will communicate with the appropriate storage service to retrieve the preserved copy.

Review Process

The Virginia Tech Preservation Policy will be reviewed annually and as needed by the Digital Preservation Coordinator to ensure that the policy is up to date with current University Library practices.

Version Status Date Notes
1.0 Completed May 2015 Created by the Associate Director of Digital Imaging & Preservation Services
2.0 Completed April 2018 Revised and updated by the Digital Preservation Coordinator


Appendix A: Glossary

  • Digital  Preservation: the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary.1

  • SIP: Submission Information Package - the package, consisting of content and metadata, which is submitted to the preservation system by a data donor

  • AIP: Archival Information Package - the package, containing the manifest, metadata, and content, which is stored long-term

  • DIP: Distribution Information Package - the package, containing usable master files, from which derivatives are made available to data consumers

  • Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System: "OAIS is understood to mean any organization or system charged with the task of preserving information over the long term and making it accessible to a specified class of users (known as the Designated Community).The use of the word "open" in OAIS refers to the fact that the model and future recommendations associated with the model are developed in open forums; it does not make any presuppositions concerning the level of accessibility of information in the archive."2

  • Trusted Digital Repository Model: A repository that maintains "œa mission to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources to its designated community, now and into the future." The TDR must include the following seven attributes: compliance with the reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), administrative responsibility, organizational viability, financial sustainability, technological and procedural suitability, system security, and procedural accountability.

  • ISO 16363: ISO 16363:2012 defines a recommended practice for assessing the trustworthiness of digital repositories. It is applicable to the entire range of digital repositories and can be used as a basis for certification.

  • Open Archives Initiative: organization that develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. OAI has its roots in the open access and institutional repository movements3

  • Archivematica: an integrated suite of open-source software tools that allows users to process digital objects from ingest to access in compliance with the ISO-OAIS functional model.

  • Microservice: a single, granular task that provide a preservation function that we tailor to our content. This is a major component of Archivematica's workflow.

  • Virginia Tech preservation system: The system includes hardware, software, personnel, interdepartmental communication, and workflows.

Appendix B: Other Preservation Policy References

Appendix C: Other Related University Policies & Missions Supported


  1. Digital Preservation Coalition Handbook Glossary.

  2.  Lavoie, Brian. (Jan/Feb 2000). "Meeting the challenges of digital preservation: The OAIS reference model." OCLC Newsletter, no. 243:26-30.

  3. Open Archives Initiative

  4. Digital Preservation Coalition Handbook Glossary.

Digital Preservation Coordinator

Alex Kinnaman's picture
Alex Kinnaman
Newman Library, Room 4062

Digital Preservation Technologist

Luke Menzies's picture
Luke Menzies
Newman Library 207B