The future is uncertain. Academic institutions require that key aspects of their scholarly histories, heritage and research remain part of the record of human endeavor in spite of, or perhaps because of, whatever will happen next. As an emblematic part of institutional identity, the potential loss of core online academic collections that are part of what an institution means could be catastrophic. Oral history collections, born digital artworks, historic journals, theses, dissertations, media and fragile digitizations of ancient documents and antiquities are examples of irreplaceable resources. What happens if a strategic institutional collection is lost? Will a critical building block of knowledge be lost forever? It is essential for scholars of the future that action is taken now to protect digital assets that are at risk of loss.
DPN ensures the secure preservation of stored content by leveraging a heterogeneous network that spans diverse geographic, technical, and institutional environments. DPN’s preservation process can be expressed in five steps: (1) Content is deposited into the system via an Ingest Node; (2) Content is replicated to at least two other Replicating Nodes and stored in varied repository infrastructures; (3) Content is checked via bit auditing and repair services to ensure the content remains the same over time; (4) destroyed or corrupted content is restored by DPN; (5) as Nodes enter and leave DPN, preserved content is redistributed to maintain the continuity of preservation services into the far-future.
The DPN federation is comprised of geographically separated repositories that are built upon different underlying system architectures. These repositories act as Nodes on the DPN network and function either to ingest and store content or to replicate and store content. The Nodes work in concert to ensure that the digital content is secure and that the objects are preserved.
The DPN launch features five Nodes, each with specific offerings as Ingest and Replicating Nodes:
DPN is a member-driven organization and is dependent on the collective expertise of digital preservation experts, technical leaders, metadata experts, legal experts and other leaders throughout higher education. DPN Members work on the thorny issues that are inherent in the development of a digital preservation system built to last beyond technological change, organizational change or system failures. Through this collaboration DPN is built to withstand catastrophe on many levels in order to secure the most valuable digital content for future scholars and researchers.
DPN operates as an independent organization under the umbrella of the not-for-profit organization Internet 2 - a community of international leaders in research, academia, industry, and government - who collaborate on the adoption of innovative technologies.
DuraSpace, an independent not-for-profit organization that provides leadership and innovation for open technologies, worked with Chronopolis to develop an ingest portal for DPN. DuraSpace collaborates with the academic, scientific, cultural, and technology communities by supporting projects and creating services to help ensure that current and future generations have access to digital heritage materials.
As a part of DPN membership members may deposit 5TB of digital content for no extra cost. Additional TB may be purchased if desired. This content will be replicated so that there are three copies of the content in the system in various locations around the country. The DPN nodes utilize community approved best practices and the system is designed so that the content is checked for fixity (and repaired should problems be detected) at least once every two years. DPN members can be confident that content in the system is well protected for the long term.
What sets DPN apart from other repository solutions is the business model that provides long-term support of deposited content upon deposit. Members pay a membership fee that allows for deposit of up to 5TB of content annually. Should members decide that they could no longer participate for any reason (including failure of their institution) the content remains protected in the DPN system for the long term. The deposit agreements that are signed upon deposit of the content specify that members can choose to pass along the deposited content to another party should an institution decide that it can no longer maintain custody. These agreements and the business model support the succession of the content for future scholars.
The DPN system was developed by the support of membership fees paid by the 60+ DPN Charter Members. Those Charter Members pay an annual membership fee of $20,000 and they may deposit up to 5TB annually as a part of their membership. The Membership Committee and the Pricing Committee are currently examining other types of memberships to accommodate the needs of library consortia, research data consortia, smaller institutions who have less content than 5TB and institutions who have content to deposit that far exceeds 5TB. We feel that it is important to have a model that supports all kinds of institutions that have unique and valuable content that must be passed forward to future scholars.
Mary Molinaro serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Service Manager for DPN. Mary previously was a faculty member at the University of Kentucky Libraries and served as director of the Research Data Center in her most recent position there. Her work and research interests include digital preservation, personal digital archiving, and digital library development. She serves as an instructor and is on the Steering Committee for the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program at the Library of Congress. Mary has great interest in supporting library infrastructure and planning in developing nations. She has done extensive work with libraries in Ecuador and served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Tunisia.
Dave Pcolar is the Chief Technology Officer for DPN. He brings over 25 years of experience working as a systems programmer, analyst, architect, and administrator supporting operational and research environments. Mr. Pcolar's experience and expertise include research, design, and implementation of scalable, distributed, archival storage and virtualized service infrastructures. Previous positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill include: Lead for IT Infrastructure Management Services, Interim Head of the Library & Information Technology Department, Lead for IT Research and Development, Technical Lead for the Carolina Digital Repository, and Acting Director of the Triangle Research Libraries Network.
In 2012, Steven Morales was chosen to be the founding director and first DPN employee. During the start up years, Mr. Morales worked together with charter members to define DPN’s mission and direction and collaborated with the Board of Directors to establish the structure of governance. In addition, he oversaw DPN's technical infrastructure development, which was a collaboration of the lead technical staff from five member universities. Mr. Morales has worked closely with DPN’s visionary founder, James Hilton, to realize his bold concept of a long-term preservation network owned and operated by the academic community. Now serving as the Chief Business Officer, Mr. Morales's responsibilities include: strategic planning, establishing strategic partnerships, implementing the DPN funding model, and creating a ground-breaking, sustainable, long-term business model for digital preservation.
Michael A. McRobbie became the 18th president of Indiana University in 2007. McRobbie first joined IU in 1997 as vice president for information technology and chief information officer, and was appointed vice president for research in 2003. Under McRobbie’s leadership, IU has seen a major expansion in the size and quality of its student body, a large-scale academic restructuring with the establishment of six new schools, a reinvigoration of the global partnerships that support the university’s international academic and educational programs, an extensive $1.5 billion program of building and renovation with the construction of over 50 new buildings and facilities, and the completion of two separate billion dollar endowment campaigns. Full Biography
Gene Block has been the UCLA’s Chancellor since 2007. Prior to joining UCLA, he served as Vice President and Provost at the University of Virginia, where he was also the Alumni Council Thomas Jefferson Professor of Biology. During his 29 years there he served as Vice President for Research and Public Service and as Founding Director of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center in Biological Timing. As chancellor, Mr. Block oversees all aspects of the university’s three-part mission of education, research and service. He serves on the boards of several leading national associations and is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Full Biography
Dan Cohen is the Founding Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America, serving that organization’s mission to “make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.” Prior to this post, he served as a Professor of History and the Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. His books include Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, which he wrote with Roy Rosenzweig. He was an inaugural recipient of the Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and was awarded the Frederick G. Kilgour Award from the American Library Association. Full Biography
John Evans is an internationally recognized expert in the telecommunications industry and a leader in technological innovation. He is perhaps best known as one of the co-founders of C-SPAN and served as its Chairman in the early 1990s, and continues to serve on its board and executive committee. He has turned considerable amounts of his energy toward consulting and speaking on the future of new technology and its impact on media and society. He is currently Chairman and CEO of Evans Telecommunications Company, an investment, consulting and operating company in the cable television and telecommunications industries. Full Biography
Mike Furlough joined HathiTrust Digital Library as its Executive Director in 2014. Previously he served as the Associate Dean for Research and Scholarly Communications at Penn State University Libraries (2006-2014) and in a variety of roles supporting the development of digital scholarship services at the University of Virginia Library (1998-2006). His research has focused on how libraries and universities develop organizational support for emerging scholarly communication practices. From 2011-2013 he served as faculty for the ARL/DLF/Duraspace E-Science Institute and currently serves on The Future of the Print Record working group sponsored by the Modern Language Association and American Historical Association. Full Biography
Bernadette Gray-Little became the 17th Chancellor of the University of Kansas in August of 2009. Since that time, she led the effort for new admission standards for KU, for four-year renewable scholarships and the first university-wide curriculum, as well as the university’s Bold Aspirations strategic plan. As chancellor, she oversees campuses in five locations as well as research and educational centers in five additional communities in the state. She received her B. A. from Marywood College (Scranton, PA) and an M. S. and Ph.D. in psychology from St. Louis University. As part of a Fulbright Foundation fellowship, she conducted postdoctoral research in cross-cultural psychology in Denmark. Full Biography
James Hilton is the University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan. He is also the Vice Provost for Digital Educational Initiatives, responsible for developing strategies and policies around educational technology and other cross-campus digital education initiatives. Full Biography
Damon E. Jaggars assumed the post of Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries at The Ohio State University on February 1, 2016. He previously worked for libraries at Columbia University, the University of Texas and Iona College. His background includes service planning, collection development and management, facilities planning and design, budgetary management and human resources, as well as building and managing distinctive and unique collections, developing and overseeing information technology infrastructures within research libraries, and in service quality assessment. Jaggars earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of California at Davis, and a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Full Biography
Carol A. Mandel is Dean of the NYU Division of Libraries, which includes NYU’s libraries in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai; along with Campus Media Services, University Archives, and the NYU Press. Her work has focused on the transformation of infrastructures, services, and partnerships to serve the research library’s core mission in a digital environment. Dean Mandel’s publications and presentations have also explored changing modes of research and teaching, preservation of digital content, new models in scholarly communication, and access to primary resources. Most recently, Dean Mandel has focused on infrastructure and service design to provide seamless services to students and faculty throughout NYU’s global system. Full Biography
Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian of ideas focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She has written and lectured widely on digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, intellectual property policies in the digital age, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history and time. For over a decade, Rumsey has been working with the Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program in development of a national strategy to identify, collect, and preserve digital content of long-term value. Full Biography
Brian E. C. Schottlaender is The Audrey Geisel University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego Libraries. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Schottlaender currently serves as a member of the HathiTrust Executive Committee, an elected delegate to OCLCs Global Council, and Co-Secretary of OCLCs Americas Regional Council. He also has served as president of both ALAs Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) and the Association of Research Libraries. He was recently named the Melvil Dewey Medal winner by the American Library Association (ALA) in recognition of his creative leadership of a high order. Full Biography
Bob Schwarzwalder is the Associate University Librarian and Director of Library Technologies at Stanford University. He has formerly held managerial and administrative positions in academe and industry. Bob has served on numerous advisory boards for publishers, database producers and internet companies. He has over 100 publications, holds a US patent related to GPS technology and is a co-author of the State of Hawaii's metadata standard. Bob has written and spoken extensively on the areas of digital information systems, knowledge management, and information licensing. He has participated in a variety of national and international projects to create effective digital information systems. Full Biography
Dan Stanzione assumed the post of the executive director of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin in July 2014 after serving as the center’s deputy director since 2009. He is the principal investigator (PI) for several leading projects including TACC's Stampede and Wrangler supercomputers and served as the co-director of CyVerse, a large-scale NSF life sciences cyberinfrastructure. In addition, Stanzione was a co-principal investigator for TACC's Ranger and Lonestar supercomputers, large-scale NSF systems previously deployed at UT Austin. Stanzione previously served as the founding director of the Fulton High Performance Computing Initiative at Arizona State University and served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow in the NSF's Division of Graduate Education. Full Biography
Winston Tabb became Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and director of the Sheridan Libraries in September 2002. He had been associate librarian at the Library of Congress. Since his arrival at Johns Hopkins, Tabb has accepted additional assignments as dean of the university's museums. As dean of the libraries, Tabb directs the integration of new information technologies throughout the university's libraries and, as head of the University Libraries Council, leads and coordinates Johns Hopkins' entire system of libraries. Full Biography
An internationally distinguished researcher and transformative higher education leader, Satish K. Tripathi, was appointed the 15th president of the University at Buffalo on April 18, 2011. As UB’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs from 2004-11, he has led the university in achieving significant growth in research activity, enhanced student quality and diversity, and an expanded international presence. The first international-born president in UB’s history, Tripathi graduated top of his class from Banaras Hindu University in India. In addition to a doctorate in computer science from the University of Toronto, he holds three master's degrees—one in computer science and two in statistics. Full Biography
In 2011, an Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) faculty member suggested that the Communications Director of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway connect with IUPUI University Library about preserving their vast, quickly deteriorating negative and photo collection. The Speedway’s Image Department knew they had a highly unique and important collection documenting the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since its brickyard beginnings in 1908.
IUPUI University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship is no stranger to community partnerships. In this particular case, the Speedway was most interested in efficiently preserving their image collection without losing physical possession of these important assets. The Library’s interests were two-fold: to preserve and to share this historic resource with Indianapolis and beyond. After funding was awarded from the Institute for Library and Museum Services, Library Services, and the Technology Act, digitization of the most fragile items began.
The first round of selection criteria was literally, “which drawer smells the worst.” As nitrate rich negatives begin to breakdown, an acrid vinegar smell is emitted. Many of the items crumbled upon scanning and the digital version is the only evidence that remains.
After digitizing items that were most at risk, Speedway historians began compiling sets of the most interesting and informative images. Scanning continued for three years, and Speedway historian Donald Davidson orated a historical recap of every race from 1911-2011. The completed collection now totals over 21,700 objects of Indianapolis Raceway history. View link here.
IUPUI is a campus of Indiana University and as such, the IUPUI University Library and IU Wells Library in Bloomington regularly work together on product purchasing and cooperative association memberships. Their DPN membership is such an example. While the single entity of IU has a membership, both IUPUI and IU Bloomington have their own contribution streams and workflows. In selecting a collection for their first DPN deposit, IUPUI used the following criteria:
• An entire collection, rather than bits and pieces of many collections
• Highly rare material that was either difficult or impossible to re-digitize
• Material that would cost more to re-scan than it would to preserve in DPN
• A collection that included multiple formats
While all IU entities have access to a robust back up mechanism referred to as the Scholarly Data Archive (SDA), it is understood that robust back up is not preservation. The SDA is based on the High Performance Storage System (HPSS), a consortium-developed hierarchical storage management (HSM) package that makes the SDA's hierarchy of storage media transparent to its users. The SDA's system architecture comprises fast, efficient disk cache front-end components (with a capacity of roughly 1,800 TB) that move infrequently accessed data to two high-end tape libraries (with nearly 15 PB of capacity). For additional information on SDA see this link.
All of IUPUI University Library’s high-resolution master files of digital image collections reside in the Scholarly Data Archive. SDA backup is adequate for many of IU’s collections. However, for the most unique and prized collections, deep preservation is not only important, but a wise investment. We are pleased that the heritage of The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is now preserved in DPN.
- Member story provided by Kristi Palmer, Associate Dean of Digital Scholarship, IUPUI University Library. Image by Eddie Rickenbacker, 1915.
Imagine going into the basement of the old Physics Building on the University of Iowa campus and discovering data tapes in cans that had begun to mold. Upon closer examination, the tapes were determined to be the first data transmitted from space that eventually led physicist James Van Allen and his team of graduate students to discover the existence of radiation belts around the earth - the Van Allen belts. The existence of these radiation belts led to a remapping of the solar system.
These original data tapes from the Explorer and other early space missions had been stored for decades in an abandoned particle accelerator chamber in the basement of the 1910 Physics Building. It wasn’t until the big flood of 2008 that the degradation of the tapes was noticed. At that time, the physics department and the University of Iowa Libraries launched a rescue and restore mission to preserve and digitize the 694 tapes from America’s first satellite mission, Explorer 1.
To the untrained ear the tapes don’t sound like much more than white noise, but to James Van Allen and his team, the gaps in the tapes led them to conclude that space was radioactive. Among other things, this key finding led NASA to redirect the trajectories of space flights in order to minimize astronauts’ exposure to unnecessary levels of radiation.
These tapes document a fundamental discovery about our solar system that has been important to generations of scientists. Preserving the digitized content of the tapes in DPN, to ensure access for future generations of scholars, was an easy decision for Daniel Johnson, Digital Preservation Librarian at the University of Iowa Libraries. You can read about the origin of the tapes, their research significance, and their historical significance at this link. You may also click here to listen to a brief conversation between Daniel Johnson and Mary Molinaro, DPN Chief Operating Officer, about this special deposit of the digital data into DPN.
Since 2005, Texas Tech University (TTU) Libraries have been digitizing content for long-term preservation. Among the many collections that have been scanned, the most notable are 14,000+ theses and dissertations spanning the entire history of the university. This digitized and born-digital content represents Texas Tech’s unique intellectual output and its greatest contribution to the scholarly record.
Several years ago when the Libraries joined DPN (as a consortial member via the Texas Digital Library), they also hired a Digital Stewardship Librarian to organize and preserve the collections, as well as help make policy decisions about the future of the collections’ curation. With the increasing size of collections and the associated costs for preservation, the need to identify and prioritize collections for preserving is crucial. The option of saving everything is simply not feasible.
TTU’s Digital Stewardship Librarian has created a preservation policy in which different kinds of materials receive appropriate levels of digital preservation. Reviewing and identifying the unique digital items that TTU Libraries possesses allows them to appropriately prioritize the items requiring full digital preservation.
Although the review process necessitates an investment of time and effort, it yields significant benefits with long-term efficiencies. One such benefit is that TTU’s graduate theses and dissertations are certain to be preserved for future generations.
In 1964, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet Robert Penn Warren conducted a series of oral history interviews with prominent leaders of the unfolding Civil Rights Movement. Warren, who was born in Guthrie, Kentucky, grew up in a segregated South. These interviews were conducted while researching his book Who Speaks for the Negro published in 1965, representing his personal intellectual transition on the topic of segregation. Warren recorded interviews with over 40 leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Kenneth Clark, Adam Clayton Powell, James Forman, Roy Wilkins, Claire Harvey, Stokely Carmichael, Bayard Rustin, and Vernon Jordan.
As an interviewer, Warren spends very little time at the superficial level. Soon after pressing record, Warren quickly asks the interviewees to engage in dynamic, critical and philosophical discussion and inquiry. He does not hesitate to ask Martin Luther King Jr. about Malcolm X and ask Malcolm X about Martin Luther King Jr. These interviews are not simply narrations and remembrances about the past. They represent a critical engagement with the present and a deep envisioning process for the future.
When the Nunn Center developed their innovative OHMS search / synchronization system for online interviews in 2008, the Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Collection was one of the first oral history collections to be made accessible. With this powerful system, an archival collection that may have been used dozens of times over a period of decades, is accessible in cutting-edge fashion, and used thousands of times by students, researchers, and teachers all over the world.
The fully searchable and synchronized interviews from the Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project can be accessed online via SPOKEdb, the Nunn Center’s online repository. There are very few primary sources from this time period that reflect so directly, critically and personally on the Civil Rights Movement as does this collection of oral history interviews. In Warren’s December 23, 1964, gift letter to the University of Kentucky Libraries, Warren states “This collection is unique, it would seem, for the interviews are very long and ‘in depth,’ not at all like the ordinary newspaper and magazine thing…. This, it would seem, is significant research material.” As a result, when tasked with identifying Nunn Center oral history collections for our first collaboration with DPN, Warren’s interviews with leaders of the Civil Rights Movement was one of our obvious first choices. These interviews, indeed, represent “significant research material.”
- Member story provided by Doug Boyd Ph.D., director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries and a recognized leader regarding oral history, archives, and digital technologies.
Image: “March on Frankfort led by (from left) Martin Luther King, Jr.; Ralph Abernathy; Wyatt Tee Walker; and Jackie Robinson,” Calvert McCann photographs, undated. University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center.