UNESCO has released The UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the Selection of Digital Heritage for Long-Term Preservation, a document created to: “provide an overarching starting point for libraries, archives, museums and other heritage institutions when drafting their own policies on the selection of digital heritage for long-term sustainable digital preservation.” Recognizing that “Heritage institutions – libraries, archives, and museums – traditionally bear the responsibility of preserving the intellectual and cultural resources produced by all of society,” the UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines point out why early identification of digital heritage is incredibly important:
This important mission is now in jeopardy around the world due to the sheer volume of information which is created and shared every day in digital form. Digital technology, in dramatically easing the creation and distribution of content, has generated exponential growth in the production of digital information. The digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will grow tenfold between 2013 and 2020. Preserving this vast output is difficult, not just for its extent, but because much of it is ephemeral. Digital information does not have the same longevity as physical objects, documents, and books, which often will survive for centuries. Digital file formats, storage media, and systems are ever evolving, jeopardizing the future readability and integrity of digital heritage over much shorter timeframes than does the deterioration of paper and physical objects, and its availability for capture is fleeting. The survival of digital heritage is much less assured than its traditional counterparts in our collections.
The document provides professionals in Libraries, Museums, and Archives assistance in considering the legal, financial, and access concerns and the local and global impacts their digital preservation decisions will make.