Photograph of Moses Wright Source: Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida.

What is digital preservation?

Digital preservation is the act of safeguarding and maintaining access to information and cultural heritage, ensuring it can withstand the test of time and technological change. 

As a leader in this field, Portico sets the gold standard for preservation practices, going beyond mere backups to secure the essence and usability of complex digital formats for future generations. In honor of National Preservation Week, we are highlighting the importance of digital preservation in protecting special collections. 

Why preservation matters for libraries’ special collections

For libraries and their special collections, digital preservation is not just a routine process; it is a strategy to future-proof valuable cultural and scholarly assets. Many libraries serve as custodians of history, and with the rapid evolution of content formats, they face the task of maintaining accessibility and integrity of their collections. 

Portico offers state-of-the-art solutions that ensure these treasures are not only stored but remain secure and available for scholars and patrons alike.

“Governor of Baja CA (white suit) cutting cake for inauguration of Acapulco Gardens restaurant.,” Bracero History Archive,

Navigating new formats

The digital era has introduced a plethora of new content formats–from multimedia and interactive articles to dynamic datasets and beyond. These formats often embed audio, video, and 3D visualizations, challenging traditional digital preservation methods. 

As scholars increasingly integrate multimedia with narrative texts, it becomes essential to consider how these complex works can be preserved in their entirety, including their functionality and user interactions.

Portico’s role in preserving new forms of scholarship

At Portico, we recognize that the landscape of scholarly communication is changing. Questions about whether narratives must be linear or if archival sources can be the central organizing structures are pushing the boundaries of traditional publishing and scholarship. Our mission is to not only keep pace with these innovations but to lead the way in developing new methodologies for preservation.

Over the past three years, we have worked on the Embedding Preservability for New Forms of Scholarship project, funded by the Mellon Foundation. Our team collaborates with experts from NYU Libraries, University of Michigan Libraries, and LOCKSS, and integrates these preservation considerations at the start of the publishing process to simplify preservation of this complex content.

Preservation versus backup
When compared, preservation is superior. It ensures managed, long-term protections for digital resources. It is managed and formats are updated over time. The content is an authentic replica with verifiable provenance. Bibliographic metadata ensures discovery over the long term.

Innovative approaches and future trends

The aforementioned embedding process has allowed us to pilot strategies that enhance the preservability of complex publications. We provide recommendations that refine publishing platforms and practices, Portico is ensuring that future publications are not just preserved but are usable in future formats. We are excited to share our findings and engage with the scholarly community at various conferences, including the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

Our goal is to deliver tools that support publishers in enhancing the preservability of complex publications, thus ensuring that new kinds of scholarly arguments and presentations remain available and functional over the long term.

Helping libraries preserve special collections

ITHAKA is now using the Portico infrastructure to offer Preserved Collections to libraries for their special collections. Solutions are tailored to the needs of the library, meaning that libraries can participate with or without the use of other ITHAKA services.

Discover how you can begin safeguarding your content for the future by reaching out to our team regarding Preserved Collections.