Information Update

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday, we announced to members and depositors of the Digital Preservation Network that we are winding down and sunsetting the organization.  It was a difficult decision for the DPN board and staff, but after examining the options, it was determined to be the best path to ensure an orderly transition for depositors. Since the beginning of DPN over five years ago, the organization has operated in an environment of rapid change.  We--the organization and the community--have learned many valuable lessons. The DPN board and staff expect these lessons will contribute to future efforts to preserve valuable digital content and will also inform continuing work to sustain community-based organizations.

The following may serve to provide context for the decision to wind-down DPN.

The model of preservation storage provision under which DPN currently operates is not a match for a sufficient number of institutions in today’s environment to be economically sustainable. DPN’s financial model assumed a critical mass of member institutions making large preservation storage deposits. Both the membership numbers and the scale of storage deposits have fallen below the critical mass needed.

  • The general environment for preservation storage has changed since DPN was founded, and the current DPN model is not perceived to be a sufficiently cost-efficient complement to other campus arrangements.  For example, institutions that already have secure preservation storage in one or more cloud-based sites may not elect to pay for a service that maintains three additional copies in dedicated locations.

  • The succession agreements and 20-year term conditions of DPN do not match the planning cycles and ownership expectations at many institutions.

  • Many institutions do not have the digital preservation workflows necessary for routine deposit to an external preservation repository.

DPN’s work has been an important, constructive learning process for the digital preservation community and will lead to new models of collaborative digital storage services.

  • The investment in research and development work with the Nodes (AP Trust, Chronopolis, HathiTrust, and the Texas Digital Library) benefitted all in areas such as replication, ingest, and registry and metadata management.  This activity has proven its value and will continue and expand in other services and the work of the Nodes.

  • With the benefit of DPN research and experience, future models should be able to optimize centralized coordination services and reduce costs.

  • The investigation into succession planning and long-term commitment illuminated what is actually feasible in the institutional context.  While research universities and cultural heritage institutions are innately long-running, they operate on that implicitly rather than by making explicit long-term plans.  This needs to be incorporated into digital preservation planning.

  • Services requested by (and provided to) DPN members have identified a significant need for operational development in the areas of selection for and workflow management of digital preservation. It is important that the community keep that work going.

  • Many institutions have better understood their own workflows and requirements by exploring the DPN model.

Although DPN, in its post-research and development phase, was not able to sustain sufficient scale to establish its desired 20 year “endowed” model, all digital data are secure and will, as needed, be returned to depositors.  DPN is working with each depositor to determine if content needs to be returned and is developing a timetable and process for any necessary returns. Most depositors have their own preservation copies of content in addition to the DPN copies and are not expected to seek a return. Three of the DPN nodes (AP Trust, Chronopolis, and TDL) are positioned to provide digital preservation services to current DPN depositors.  DPN will assist in that transition.

Finally, we would like to thank the community, especially the DPN members and the Node partners for the support of DPN and the progress we have made in digital preservation.