Skip to Main Content

APRCA Policies: Digital preservation policy

Digital Preservation Policy


Ensure that Digital Archives and Digital Collections in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library retain their authenticity, discoverability, accessibility and usability into the future.


The Elmer E. Rasmuson Library (EERL) retains the University of Alaska Archives and has a well documented Collection Development Policy for guiding the acquisition of material. While that material exists in various forms and on a variety of media, this policy will address the preservation of assets that are in a Digital form. This document will formalize existing procedures and provide the framework for evolving with future challenges. It is the intent of the Digital Preservation Group to provide the means to facilitate the handling and preservation of Digital Assets.


To ensure the success of the Digital Preservation mission, this Policy will establish the guidelines for the authority of Digital Assets through:

  • Defining Digital Assets and their preservation expectations.
  • Identifying the Roles and Responsibilities of the stakeholders.
  • Documenting a chain of custody path through the life cycle of a Digital Asset.
  • Promoting the collaboration between subject matter experts.
  • Identifying the forum for appraising and improving this policy’s implementation.

Definitions and Preservation Expectations

  • Asset ‐ item of enduring value as identified by the University of Alaska Archivist, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library Mission/Vision/Values and Collection Development Officer.
  • Digital ‐ electronic/magnetic collection of binary symbols that is or has been recognized as a file format suitable for rendering with a computer. Examples: computer files (photos, video, audio, email, text documents)
  • Digital Asset ‐ computer file identified as requiring Digital Preservation protection.
  • Digital Archive Record ‐ Digital Asset identified as having infinite preservation duration (in perpetuity) with a preservation priority on authenticity. Examples: high definition pictures with legend, files stored on ARCHIVE servers, removable media stored in vaults (deep archive).
  • Digital Workfile Record ‐ Digital Asset identified as publicly accessible that can be used to develop production quality Assets. These Assets have a preservation priority on usability. Examples: files stored on shared drives or network drives that are included in a Backup Plan.
  • Digital Production Record ‐ Digital Asset created from a Digital Workfile Record that is readily electronically accessible. These Assets have a preservation priority on discoverability and accessibility. Examples: Online CMS content (Project Jukebox, Vilda),
  • Digital Artifact ‐ computer files that are NOT governed by the Digital Preservation Policy. Examples: Files that exist in a location not included in a Backup Plan, files on a local computer drive, floppy drives, USB drives, CD, DVD and removable media.



For the purpose of this policy, the focus will be on how people interact with Digital Assets. While these people may participate in a formal or informal relationship with the EERL and their actions may appear to span one or more of these roles, their interactions will fall within these roles:

  • Creator ‐ initiates the creation of a Digital Asset. Digital Assets can be created by digitizing an analog asset, digitally recording an event during its origination, or the modification of an existing Digital Asset (through a crop, merge, edit, formatting or conversion action). Examples: At Large collectors, Library Faculty, Staff and grant funded employees working on Collections, Library IT Staff.
  • Manager ‐ verify accuracy of Digital Asset, Metadata and pedigree. Assign classification that identifies the preservation strategy for the Digital Asset. Examples: Collection Managers, Unit Heads, grant managers, Library IT Staff.
  • Conservator ‐ receives Digital Assets and places them according to their classification. Examples: Library IT Staff, Other UA IT professionals.
  • User ‐ anyone who requests a Digital Asset. (Technically, a User will never receive a Digital Asset. What they receive is a COPY of a Digital Asset.)



  • Creator comply and contribute to the best practice standards of this policy use agreed upon methods, materials, formats and storage to create the Digital Asset. document agreed upon specifics for the context of the content of the Digital Asset and the details of the Digital Asset’s attributes. (This information is commonly referred to as Metadata and shall become part of the Digital Asset.) follow agreed upon procedure for associating the Metadata with the Digital Asset. deliver Digital Asset to Asset Manager.
  • Manager comply and contribute to the best practice standards of this policy ensure Digital Assets are created in accordance with this policy. review asset classifications to ensure Digital Assets are placed appropriately. use the tools provided to transfer custody of the Digital Asset. review audit reports of Digital Assets in a timely manner.
  • Conservator comply and contribute to the best practice standards of this policy provide and support the tools for transferring custody of Digital Assets. place the Digital Assets in accordance with their classification. maintain, monitor and verify access to Digital Assets. routinely audit and report on the Digital Assets and infrastructure.
  • User accurately reference the source and ownership of the Digital Asset. dispose of the copy of the Digital Asset as appropriate.

Chain of Custody

An Asset is influenced by the best practices for the people involved in its Life Cycle (Appendix). This Policy’s scope specifically addresses the time the Asset spends within the Digital Preservation Infrastructure. It is not the intent of this Policy to alter any other aspect of the life of the Asset. However, through the cooperation and collaboration of roles, the preservation of Digital Assets can be improved.

When a Digital Asset enters the Digital Preservation Infrastructure, it is managed through a Chain of Custody to ensure the Digital Preservation Mission is met. The Chain of Custody shall consist of instructions on where to store the Digital Asset and tools for moving, saving, backup/restoring, mirroring, publishing and archiving the Digital Asset. The instructions and tools that make up the Chain of Custody are provided and supported by the Library Information Technology Office. Each and every person involved in the Life Cycle of the Digital Asset within this Chain of Custody is responsible for following the instructions and using the tools provided.

Digital Preservation Committee

The Digital Preservation Committee consists of representatives from the EERL Unit Heads and people that participate in each of the Roles of Digital Preservation. The Committee shall meet formally on an agreed upon schedule and informally as needed (in whole or part) to review and revise the Chain of Custody as needed. Anyone who is active in a Role of Digital Preservation is encouraged to provide input to the Committee.

The Committee will also be responsible for identifying upgrades to keep up with technology, to set standards for Metadata and complying with industry best practices. The Digital Preservation IT Staff will create, integrate, implement, train and report on the technology used.

The Committee will be the united front on matters of Digital Preservation for the EERL.

Appendix: Asset Life Cycle

Graphic of the Asset Life Cycle

General Contact Information


Phone: 907-474-2791​

Text: 907-341-4404

Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives
1732 Tanana Loop
PO Box 756808
Fairbanks, Alaska

Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
1732 Tanana Loop
PO Box 756800
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6800
Phone: 907-474-7481​​
Text: 907-341-4404​

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual.

Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.