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Digital Preservation

Digital preservation is the series of activities to prepare and manage content for long-term access. Our mission is, to preserve, protect, and provide sustaining access to the cultural and historical heritage of Virginia Tech and the state of Virginia by digitizing, preserving, and providing access to digital assets both from Virginia Tech and from the southwest region of Virginia. This aspect of data curation requires active management involving the normalization of content, ingest of copies stored in geographically different locations with regular fixity checks and file migrations. For detailed information, see our Digital Preservation Policy.

On this page:


  • Digital Preservation: the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary.
  • SIP: Submission Information Package - the package, consisting of content and metadata, which is submitted to the preservation system by a data donor
  • AIP: Archival Information Package - the package, containing the manifest, metadata, and content, which is stored long-term
  • DIP: Distribution Information Package - the package, containing usable master files, from which derivatives are made available to data consumers
  • Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System: "OAIS is understood to mean any organization or system charged with the task of preserving information over the long term and making it accessible to a specified class of users (known as the Designated Community).The use of the word "open" in OAIS refers to the fact that the model and future recommendations associated with the model are developed in open forums; it does not make any presuppositions concerning the level of accessibility of information in the archive."2
  • Trusted Digital Repository Model: A repository that maintains "a mission to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources to its designated community, now and into the future." The TDR must include the following seven attributes: compliance with the reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), administrative responsibility, organizational viability, financial sustainability, technological and procedural suitability, system security, and procedural accountability.
  • Microservice: a single, granular task that provide a preservation function that we tailor to our content. This is a major component of Archivematica's workflow.


At Virginia Tech, we employ several technologies and workflows for preserving our institutional repositories.

Archivematica (https://www.archivematica.org/en/) is a tool that performs preservation functions on our content through microservices. Our content moves through Archivematica microservices, creates the AIP, and deposits the DIP into one of our storage locations.

Academic Preservation Trust (http://aptrust.org/) is one of our storage services. It is a consortium of institutions dedicated to long-term and collaborative digital preservation that is hosted at UVA.

MetaArchive Cooperative (https://metaarchive.org/) is one of our storage services. It is a distributed digital preservation network that is hosted on 15 geographically separated nodes and functions on the LOCKSS system.

VT Archive is University-level and held at the VT Corporate Research Center. This storage is on tape back disks. Content is transferred here directly after being processed by Archivematica.

Archive-It (https://archive-it.org/) is a subscription-based web archiving services from the Internet Archive that we use to web crawl Virginia Tech’s web presence.


Items that are processed by our Digital Imaging team are then transferred to the Preservation Team, and transferred to VT Archive and to one of our external storage services. To reduce possibility of writing over archival files, and to reduce traffic on the Dark Archive's OAI compliant server, access to the preservation environment is limited to authorized personnel. This includes access to our Archivematica dashboard and configuration, APTrust repositories, MetaArchive repository, and web archiving dashboard.

In the event of data loss or corruption in our access files, Digital Preservation Services will be notified and will communicate with the appropriate storage service to retrieve the preserved copy. Finally, content can be retrieved at any time with the appropriate content information.