Much of our digital heritage is at risk due to file format obsolescence. With the combined efforts of collecting organizations, archivists, developers of virtualization- and emulation-as-a-service platforms, archivists and other information professionals are beginning to seriously consider software preservation as a core practice of digital preservation. For if we preserve digital objects, should we not also preserve the means (the software) by which we can experience them?
Archivists from Cal Poly and the University of Texas at Austin have been awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to build the foundation of an organization that can preserve the means to experience our digital heritage. The Software Preservation Network (SPN) project will be a one-year planning project (October 2015 – September 2016) to organize and host a Software Preservation Network forum to solicit community input and build consensus around future steps; identify potential partners willing to participate in the implementation of the software preservation network; draft SPN’s legal and licensing and organizational framework; draft a business plan to submit as part of the implementation grant for sustaining the project beyond the life of grant funding; gather empirical evidence of the need for a software preservation network within the cultural heritage community; and draft technical architecture specifications that consider integration with existing national preservation infrastructure. These activities will all be in service of building community consensus on the best organizational model for software preservation, which the project team intends to then implement after this proposed planning phase.
Zach Vowell, Digital Archivist at Cal Poly, and Jessica Meyerson, Digital Archivist at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, are the co-investigators on the project. Carlos Ovalle, a professional technologist and doctoral candidate affiliated with the University of Texas School of Information, is a third official member of the project who brings his expertise regarding fair use and copyright to the team.
View all of the project’s application materials, hosted here on the IMLS website.
And follow the project’s progress on Twitter @SoftPresNetwork.