Sally McInnes

Sally McInnes

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Sally McInnes is Director of Unique Collections at the National Library of Wales

Today is the first International Digital Preservation Day. The aim of the day is to create greater awareness of digital preservation and the issues associated with preserving and providing access to digital material. There are particular challenges associated with the preservation of digital material, notably the fast pace of software and hardware developments, the increasing complexity of digital resources and the resulting impact on the stability of such media.  If digital material is to remain accessible, both in the short-term for business continuity, research, economic and legal requirements and for preserving the historic record in the longer-term, measures have to be taken to ensure that this information is accessible.

The International Digital Preservation Day has been co-ordinated by the Digital Preservation Coalition The NLW is a long-term member of the DPC, the aim of which is to support its members to make digital information available in the future.  It has published a 'Bit List' of the World's Endangered Digital Species which has been unveiled today as part of this campaign to raise awareness of the need to preserve digital materials.

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As one of the examples of digital content at risk, it highlights digital photographs. It states that more than 2 billion people worldwide use smartphones, and will take hundreds and thousands of digital photos per year, sharing them on social media with friends and family. There is currently no in-built mechanism for these photos to be archived at the point of creation and accessed in the long term.  The DPC concludes that although technological solutions are a challenge, human behaviour is a greater risk and that we all need to take responsibility for preservation.

The National Library of Wales has been taking responsibility for preservation by working with the Archives and Records Council Wales to ensure that digital information will be available for the future. Today it is launching the first Digital Preservation Policy, which provides a framework for enabling digital material to be preserved and available across Wales (English version available at and Welsh version available at

The Library has also developed a technical infrastructure for ARCW partners which enables the transfer of the digital information, together with its metadata, to a system which ensures its integrity over time, whilst providing access through the partners’ own systems.

By working together in Wales and throughout the world, we can ensure that digital information is available to  support decision making, to evidence transparent, responsive and accountable activity and to preserve our cultural heritage.

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