Simplify Digital Preservation


Digital preservation is necessary to ensure ongoing to access to cultural heritage collections in an increasingly digital world. There is a misconception that digital objects do not need to be preserved because they do not decay or degrade in the same manner as their physical counterparts. However, digital formats are subject to various risks and need continual maintenance to guarantee their long-term endurance.

Threats to a digital object’s preservation not only includes digital equivalents of degradation and decay, but due to the consistent and rapid evolution of digital formats, they are also threatened with obsolescence.

Digital preservation software tools can safeguard digital collections by preforming regular checks on each item’s health, accessibility, and usability. If a fault is identified, the tool will make sure an identical backup can be used as a replacement, securing the digital object’s ongoing preservation.

On the surface, digital preservation appears to be a complex subject suited to large organizations with dedicated resources. This is often compounded with lots of confusing information that may seem over-complicated to those unfamiliar with technical jargon.

However, when described in simple terms, digital preservation can be a realistic and achievable task for all collecting organizations. Our resource, What is Digital Preservation?, breaks down the subject of digital preservation into easily to digestible core concepts and terms.

Information and Resources

All your digital content in one place


Digital collections often hold a range of content in various file formats. A portrait of an artist might be stored as a .tiff file, whereas a 3D scan of a sculpture they created will be stored as a .obj file, and a recorded interview will be stored as a .wav file. Each of these file formats have different requirements for how they are accessed, stored, and managed.

Scenarios like this can be problematic for organisations trying to store their digital collections. They might find they need to use multiple unrelated platforms to host content, which can result in a fragmented and disjointed collection. Disconnection between related items diminishes a collections value because it results in the loss of important contextual information.

A comprehensive collection management system (CMS) that can hold all of an organisation’s content within one online platform (regardless of file format) is a good solution. Not only does a CMS provide you with an easily accessible location to manage all your data, but it can also hugely increase the collections value. It will enable you to create contextual connections between related items, revealing a narrative and a deeper understanding of the collection, ultimately facilitating better user experiences.

Digital content of all formats is being created at an increasing pace, exposing the need for a unified repository for digital assets, data records, and stories — one adapts and grows dynamically according to your business requirements.

Recollect is a comprehensive platform designed to host, manage, and share digital collections of all formats. In our case study, Emerging From The Primordial Technological Ooze, librarians and archivists at the University of Newcastle were faced with the challenge of making their digital collections (stored as various file formats) easily accessible and discoverable. They used Recollect to successfully build Living Histories, an online digital collections platform, that is tailored to their specific needs.

Tell the stories held in your collection


The success of a digital collection relies on the target audience being able to easily discover the stories and information that matters to them the most. Users of digital collections might be members of an organisation, a local community, or niche researchers: all of which have different methods of discovery!

Filtered search functionality is a necessary feature for users that know exactly what they are trying to find — but what if a user simply wants to browse or explore your collection?

Collection showcases can help users find the most interesting stories within your collections by directing their attention towards specific sub-collections that support valuable engagement.

The Recollect platform (designed as a comprehensive collection management system) provides a variety of tools to help administrators create collection showcases, e.g., dedicated static pages, information hubs, timelines, and narrative items.

The State Library of South Australia (SLSA) implemented a collection showcase within their Digital Collections to emphasize the story of pioneer aviators, the Smith Brothers. SLSA created a dedicated static page that utilises many of Recollect’s discovery tools including a timeline, event items, object items, persona profiles, along with an information hub that connects all content relating to the Smith Brothers.

Our resource “Showcasing Digital Collections” takes a closer look at the methods administrators can use to highlight specific topics and guarantee positive user experiences.