A detailed guide for building a preservation policy, with lots of references to existing policies. Use this to establish the structure of your policy and to guide the development of its content.

How to use this section to write a policy

This part of the Toolkit has been developed to help you structure and write the detailed sections that will make up your digital preservation policy. The sections that are most important to include have been labelled ‘Recommended’. All other sections are ‘Optional’ and you will need to consider whether they are useful for the organizational context in which you work. Note that the intention is to indicate areas and topics that should be covered within a policy, but not to mandate the use of particular headings or structure. It is perfectly acceptable to combine or retitle sections if this is more appropriate for your organization.

The following are the ‘Recommended’ and ‘Optional’ headings for a preservation policy:

  1. Summary (Optional)

  2. Purpose (Recommended)

  3. Strategy Alignment or Mandate (Recommended)

  4. Scope (Recommended)

  5. Policy Principles (Recommended)

  6. Roles and Responsibilities (Recommended)

  7. Standards and Models (Optional)

  8. Sustainability (Recommended)

  9. Related Documents (Recommended)

  10. Glossary (Optional)

  11. Contact (Optional)

  12. Document Control (Recommended)


Do not feel that you have to include all sections covered by this Toolkit. One of the findings from policy analysis work carried out by a Digital Preservation at Oxford and Cambridge (DPOC) project and described in a blog by Edith Halvarsson was that a policy which covers all possible preservation policy headings is not automatically more effective than a policy that only covers a selection – in fact the opposite is sometimes the case.

Do add in any other sections that you think you need in order to create the right policy for your institution. There is no correct order for the headings – they are arranged logically, but will almost certainly need to be ordered to meet the expectations of your audience.

Each heading of the preservation policy template includes some guidance notes on what you should put in the section, incorporating hints and tips on what works well (and sometimes what doesn’t work so well). This advice is followed by a selection of examples from preservation policies we like.


A note on the policies linked from this section

We have linked to a range of different digital preservation policies from this section of the toolkit. We hope that these examples are helpful to you in providing inspiration for crafting your own policy statements. You may wish to write your own text from scratch using the guidance provided, or you might find it easier to find a statement that you like from an existing policy and use that instead. It is OK to borrow statements from the preservation policies of other organizations, but we would encourage you to ensure that the statement really meets your needs and reflects the direction and priorities of your own organization. You may find you want to tweak or reword it to ensure it does what you need it to. If copying a significant portion of a policy from another organization word for word, it is common courtesy to contact the policy owner and check that they are happy for you to do this.

Though we have tried to ensure that a range of different types of organization are represented in the examples, there are a far higher proportion of policies included from universities. This is primarily because universities are more likely to make their policies publicly available. If you know of good practice examples from other sectors that you think should be linked from this toolkit, do let us know!

We have tried to link only to those policies that are current and are being actively maintained, but note that policies can (and indeed should) be reviewed and updated regularly. It is our expectation that the policies we reference will be superceded and that links within this toolkit will break. We have quoted the relevant section of text throughout the template so that it is there for you to access. Section headings and numbering have been stripped out. If you would like to see how the selected text fits in with the policy as a whole, you may wish to access the original policy document, so we have included a link to allow you to do this. If the link is broken, do go to the Internet Archive and paste the policy url into the search box, or alternatively search for the latest preservation policy on the website of the organization (note that most organizations only make their current policy available online).

We intend to review and update this toolkit every 3 years to update example policies and links.


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