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Digital Preservation

The Smithsonian is focused on collating the best practices in digital preservation to ensure that files saved in digital formats are available for use by future generations. From the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's curatation of digital media to the National Museum of Natural History Museum's scanning of specimens to the Smithsonian Archives' digitization of archival photographs, the Smithsonian is expert in preserving digital files.

The Smithsonian's Digital Preservation Working Group is led by Smithsonian Archives director Anne Van Camp and includes Smithsonian Libraries director Nancy Gwinn and Chief Information Officer Deron Burba, along with several other Institution staff.

The group's tasks include:

  • Analyzing digital preservation needs;
  • Identifying best practices for varied digital content preservation;
  • Identifying organizational roles and responsibilities to ensure long-term preservation and access;
  • Estimating resource needs; and
  • Determining standards and policies as needed.

The working group undertook an assessment of the Institution’s overall capacity for digital preservation.  In the course of the assessment conducted by an outside consulting firm, AVPreserve, it was determined that Smithsonian had insufficient information on the extent of digital research data that was currently held or generated by Smithsonian researchers.  A brief survey to gather more in-depth information about how data was created, how much, and the types of data being produced at the Smithsonian was completed by 100 researchers.  The results of that survey are included in the final report of the Digital Preservation Working Group.  In addition to the report, there is an executive summary and assessment highlights.  This website will be updated as work progresses. 

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