Preservation of information involves several important concepts:
RUcore insures fidelity to the source information in the following ways:
A "canonical" representation for information presents the "truest" version of the source information, in a manner that is easily re-used by researchers. The "truest" representation for information may not be the most complete, but rather the information that experts in the field agree is most representative of the source information. With current computer graphics applications, it is quite easy to add arms to the famous "Venus de Milo" sculpture that are faithful to the artistry of the original sculptor. However, the statue in its current "armless" state is considered by art historians and art lovers to be the "canonical" representation. Fixing "flaws" in information may result in creating a nonstandard version of the source information.
In digital scholarship, canonical representations of source information are often created to insure that the digital information can be displayed and used even as technology changes.
For example, data sets are often produced within database management systems, such as Microsoft Access® or MySQL that may not be interpretable in the future. The ability to search across multiple data sets to retrieve information is also useful but difficult to accomplish, since every database is a self-contained information resource.
Canonical representations for data will be established by the Rutgers University Libraries for storage and access within RUcore in several ways:
Canonical representations for text created in commercial off the shelf (COTS) applications will be created in a similar fashion, using the forthcoming electronic theses and dissertation collection as a test bed. Multiple format-independent representations will be created, including:
The object entity in the data model represents each information resource stored in RUcore. The entire lifecycle of the resource, including the interactions with other entities, is accommodated in RUcore's metadata architecture:
The structure map indicates both logical and physical components of a complex information object. A complex information object either includes concatenated multiple images (such as a digital multi-page book) or consecutive images or sounds (digital video and audio files).
Rights metadata identifies the rights holder(s) for each information resource and identifies the permissions for use that the rights holder has granted, including any restrictions on those permissions.
Rights will intersect with the agent entity to provide a rights holder directory with sufficient information to contact a rights holder for further permissions, such as the right to republish an information resource.
Descriptive metadata provides sufficient information for users to discover and obtain access to information resources.
Source metadata describes the provenance, condition and conservation of analog source materials, such as the photographs, books, maps, etc. that have been digitized for inclusion in RUcore.
Technical metadata provides information about the digital master files that RUcore will maintain for long-term preservation and access.
Digi Prov metadata, or digital provenance metadata, provides a digital "audit trail" of any changes to the digital master file.
RUcore's Workflow Management System (WMS) is a web application for uploading digital information resources and metadata to RUcore. A "core" metadata profile has been designed to support the minimum amount of metadata needed to describe and manage information. Collection owners can use additional data elements, create new data elements, add controlled vocabularies and design input templates to customize metadata beyond the core, to support the needs of their collection and users.
Rutgers University Libraries cataloging faculty can assist you in designing and applying metadata for your digital collection. Contact Mary Beth Weber, Catalog Department Manager, for assistance.
Further Resources: Presentation on Digital Preservation