Use this to find the assistance you need to do digital preservation, from reference materials to asking the question of others

There are an almost endless number of challenges in the digital preservation field. Whether it's in depth experience with a particular file format, getting to grips with emulation, or writing a business case to fund your preservation work, it's unrealistic for a single person to have all the experience and answers needed. Getting support and advice from a subject specialist or simply someone who's been there, not succeeded first time, tried again, and learned the lessons can often make a real difference. That's where the DPC comes in. This is our guide to seeking help with your digital preservation challenges.

What makes a good digital preservation question?

Digital Preservation is a complex topic at the centre of a whole range of different issues. A solution to a particular problem is often a compromise between technological, resourcing and organisational factors. We often joke amongst the DPC Team that the answer to every digipres question is "it depends". The more serious point behind this observation is that there is usually no one answer that suits all. Which file format, which tool, what process, who should be involved, which issue is the priority...? All these questions depend on the context. What is being preserved, who created it, who is it being preserved for, what is the legal context, and many more issues are essential to understand before an appropriate approach can be identified.

If you're asking a digital preservation question, try and provide as much of the relevant context as possible, to allow an answer to be tailored to your specific situation. Much of this organisational and contextual knowledge is often taken for granted by the questioner, but is essential to understand for those giving help.

Digital preservation, as is often noted, is also a moving target. Some digipres questions will address areas where there is established good practice. Others will be at the cutting edge of understanding with perhaps little evidence or experience to inform advice. In these cases it may be necessary to have a broader discussion, perform research or perhaps trial different approaches before guidance can be arrived at. What constitutes a good answer now, may be completely out of date within a short period of time. Having a thorough understanding of *why* a particular approach is recommended, will help to inform future decision making.

What makes a good answer to a digital preservation question?

In this busy and resource constrained world in which we live, the best answer to any question should be a clear, simple and straightforward prescription that can be easily implemented. Or is it? If the context to a question is critical (see above) then perhaps the answer itself could more usefully be about the broader process and the broader understanding behind any specific answers. The response to many DPC member queries is more often than not a dialogue that takes in the wider issues and context and explores different solutions or approaches. A two way discussion (or ideally, a multi-way discussion with other members as well) can help take a member towards a solution that's appropriate for them, and give them the understanding to maintain and develop that solution over time as requirements and challenges change. It's therefore helpful to manage expectations, where a simple one sentence question might well not have a simple one sentence answer.

Getting help: Make use of DPC resources

  • There is a fabulous wealth of reference material in the DPC Website Knowledge Base. There is a search facility at the top of every page or a browse of the subject tags may be of use.
  • We provide detailed guidance on preservation subjects in our Technology Watch publications. Full Technology Watch reports provide in-depth reference information, but there are also short Guidance Notes on specific topics and our Topical Notes series introduces key digital preservation topics in easy to understand 2 page primers.
  • The DPC's Digital Preservation Handbook includes a contents page that can also be a handy route for browsing to useful sources of information.
  • Engaging across your organisation (and beyond) and building the case for digital preservation is often a challenge. Our Advocacy page provides pointers to help in this area, including our Executive Guide and Business Case Toolkit. The Policy Toolkit and Procurement Toolkit then provide guidance on moving forward from engagement success to digipres implementation.
  • The site pulls together a whole host of community sourced information about digital preservation and has a handy front page listing all sorts of useful links.

If you don't find the answers you're looking for then please move swiftly onto the next step...

Get direct help from the DPC

Our DPC staff are small in number, but our member expertise is vast! Contact us and we hope to be able to help. If we can't help, we will most likely know someone across the coalition who will! Here are some options:

  • Contact one of the DPC staff - a useful first step, or chat with us in our weekly DPConnect.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (if you're a member and you don't yet have access, please get in touch by email at info (at) If the question is sensitive in nature, we can anonymously ask DPC members for you.
  • Book in some Dedicated Support for Full Members - full DPC members are entitled to up to 5 days of dedicated support per year.

Ask the community

Sometimes it's useful to ask a question in a more public forum, assuming you're happy to share with the wider world. This enables responses to be shared, commented upon by other interested parties, refined, and of course re-used by others in the future. Try the following:

Don't forget about the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email list. Although it's a moderated list intended for announcements rather than discussion, it can be very useful for raising awareness of your work. See the archives here. The ALA's Digipres list is another alternative with a bit of a focus on the US.

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