Preserving Archival Digital Records Transferred from Commonwealth Agencies
30 June 2020
1. Policy statement
The National Archives of Australia will secure, preserve and provide access to digital records of enduring value.
2. Policy aims
Digital preservation aims to address the following risks:
- The content of digital records becomes inaccessible due to future software obsolescence,
- data loss due to the obsolescence or failure of the hardware or media used to store digital records,
- data loss due to inadvertent or malicious alteration of content, and
- inauthentic or unreliable data due to incomplete or inadequate capture of digital records and metadata at the time of transfer.
This Policy describes the digital archiving principles and approaches adopted by the National Archives of Australia (Archives) to ensure these risks are mitigated as much as possible.
Further policy documents, procedures, standards, and guidance will be developed in future to address specific aspects of the Policy.
This Policy addresses the following target groups:
- Archives' staff
- Commonwealth Government agencies
- Expert groups in the digital archiving community
- Public clients
3. Related documents
The Policy relates to other key policies and strategies, including:
- National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21
- ICT Technology Roadmap
- Distributed Custody Policy
- National Digitisation Strategy
- National Reference Service Strategy
- National Storage Strategy
- National Preservation Strategy
- Transfer Policy
- Personal Records Policy
- Policy on Disposal of Records in the Archives' Custody Following Digitisation
- Digital Transition Policy
- Digital Continuity 2020 Policy
This Policy applies to digital records of enduring value. These include:
- Born-digital records, which were created and managed digitally for business purposes and subsequently transferred into the custody of the Archives. Born-digital records include not only the common image and document formats, but also emerging formats, email, audiovisual records, mixed media, structured datasets and computer code.
- Digitised records , which were created in analogue form, but have been subsequently converted to digital form for one of the following reasons:
- Business: Created by an agency.
- Preservation: Created by an agency or the Archives to preservation standard.
- Access: Created by an agency or the Archives.
- General Records Authority 31 and Disposal of Records in the Archives' Custody Following Digitisation: Created by an agency or the Archives to preservation standard and the analogue record subsequently destroyed.
Digitised records are digital material that is subject to the same broad challenges of preservation and access as born-digital records.
For the purposes of this policy, a digital record consists of content (encoded in an object such as a data file) and metadata describing the content. Both the content and metadata are essential components of a record. This policy provides for the preservation of the content and associated metadata, the maintenance of a persistent link between the two, and the creation of new metadata to document the preservation actions undertaken.
Standards play an important role in digital preservation. In particular, they provide clear benchmarks for defining requirements and measuring outcomes, and support interoperability between contemporary and future systems. Internal and external standards that the Archives applies to digital preservation include:
- Conceptual models and standards such as the Reference Model for Open Archival Information Systems and the Archives' Performance Model
- Metadata standards such as the Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) system, the Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard (AGRkMS), and Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS)
- File format standards such as ISO/IEC 26300: Open Document Format for Office Applications, ISO/IEC 15948: Portable Network Graphics, TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) Revision 6.0
- Internal standards for digitisation, preservation formats, transfer and storage and retrieval.