Digital Preservation Policy

University Libraries is committed to retaining the long-term accessibility and integrity of the historical and academic digital objects in our charge. We have developed our policies and procedures in accordance to community standards and best practices including ISO standards (e.g., the Open Archival Information System (OAIS)), and will update them periodically as we improve our services.

Preservation Strategies

University Libraries aims to:

  • Create files in sustainable formats.
  • Name files consistently and sustainably.
  • Describe materials as best and accurately as possible.
  • Store the files as securely and stably as possible.
  • Check and record format characterization to ensure the file is technically what it purports to be.
  • Establish, check, and record the fixity of each file to ensure it remains what it purports to be.
  • Keep the files renderable as long as possible.
  • Migrate the files when possible if they are in danger of no longer being renderable.
  • Provide access to as much material as we legally and technically can.
  • Educate on and comply with intellectual property rights and access agreements.
  • Record the life story of each file.
  • Back up and replicate the files offsite for disaster preparedness and recovery.
  • Work with iTech to secure access to servers and other vulnerable infrastructure.
  • Work with iTech to refresh media on a regular schedule (e.g., every 5 years).
  • Use established standards and best practices.

File Formats and Preservation Support

In order to best facilitate long-term preservation and access, all files should be unencrypted, uncompressed (size permitting), encoded in standard representations (e.g., ASCII, UTF-8), and when possible widely used, non-proprietary, and well documented.

University Libraries provides three tiers of support for submitted data:

Tier 1

Tier 1 services are the highest level of support offered by University Libraries, and are intended for open, sustainable file formats (e.g., .txt). Our best efforts will be made to ensure the integrity and accessibility to Tier 1 files including bit level services (Tier 3), obsolescence monitoring and migration (Tier 2), as well as maintaining the structure and functionality to the best of our ability.

Tier 2

Tier 2 services offer bit level preservation (Tier 3) as well as format obsolescence monitoring and migration services when possible. Tier 2 is intended for some files that are well-known, but proprietary (e.g., Microsoft Word). We aim to preserve the intellectual content above all else, conceding that specialized fonts, formatting, or other features may be lost in migration efforts.

Tier 3

Tier 3 offers basic digital preservation services (bit level) for files without migration or emulation services, and is intended for proprietary file formats with little to no open documentation (e.g., .spss). Bit level services include checksum generation and regular fixity checks; however, no further actions will be taken to preserve the functionality or features of the file. Files in Tier 3 may or may not be renderable in the future, and we can make no guarantees on the form or presentation it will take.

A list of file formats and their assigned support tier is available.

Withdrawal Policy

Aquila is intended to be a permanent scholarly record of activity at Southern Miss. Items contributed to the repository are considered permanent, and under normal circumstances, items that are deposited are not available for withdrawal. However, items raising legal issues (such as violation of copyright or violation of the terms of the depositor’s agreement), containing plagiarized content, or considered breaches of confidentiality may be considered for withdrawal. Requests for withdrawal must be received in writing from the copyright holder, content creator, or legal counsel.

Exit Strategy

University Libraries is committed to retaining the long-term accessibility and integrity of the digital objects in our charge including the digital files in Research Data Management. Funding for Research Data Management and our digital preservation efforts comes from the University Libraries budget.

Should funding for University Libraries be eliminated or the university become defunct, University Libraries will notify depositors, with as much advanced warning as possible, and make efforts to transfer the content to another repository or return submitted files to the content creators.

Review Schedule

This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Technology and Digital Scholarship unit in University Libraries.

Last review date: 2017-08-11

Last modified date: 2017-08-11



Credit is due to the University of Michigan’s Deep Blue Data repository for serving as an inspiration for Research Data Management. Special thanks to Michigan’s Research Data Services Manager, Jake Carlson, for sharing his expertise and experience.