The statement of purpose should succinctly explain why this policy has been developed and what it aims to accomplish. It's an opportunity to inform the policy reader about what digital preservation is, how it differs from other processes (such as routine IT backups and digitization) and why it is necessary to have a dedicated policy on it. 

If your preservation policy is being used as a communication or advocacy tool – most likely within an organization new to digital preservation – it may be useful to include a short statement on the preservation risks and/or the benefits of enacting the policy. Detailing preservation risks can help to communicate the need for digital preservation action while detailing benefits can demonstrate the potential value in investing in digital preservation. The Executive Guide on Digital Preservation and Digital Preservation Business Case Toolkit provide extensive guidance on risks and benefits. The 'Bit List' of Digitally Endangered Species may also be referenced if there are specific examples of 'at risk' digital content within your organization that you wish to highlight. Not everyone chooses to go into this level of detail and whether you do so will depend on your organizational context and level of digital preservation maturity.

Another point you may wish to address in this section of the policy is whether the policy reflects current practice or is aspirational. This may not always be obvious from reading a policy document so stating this upfront will ensure there can be no confusion.

Example policy statements

Penn State University

University Libraries inspires intellectual discovery and learning through robust information resources and academic collaborations in teaching and research that connect the Penn State community and citizens of Pennsylvania to the world of knowledge and new ideas. To achieve and facilitate this mission, University Libraries must have a robust digital preservation policy for the stewardship for digital content—born-analog (digitized) and born-digital—within our collections. Due to its dependence on technology for interpretation and use, digital content is at significant risk of being lost or made inaccessible due to technical obsolescence, and requires different treatment than traditional analog materials. A robust program builds capacity to address digital preservation concerns for the majority of collections while freeing up capacity to continually expand that majority by developing strategies to handle an evolving digital content landscape.

Penn State University Libraries Policy UL-AD19 Digital Preservation Policy (2021)

University of Bristol

The purpose of this policy is to provide a statement on the University of Bristol’s commitment and approach to preserving digital material within Cultural Collections.
Significant risks are attached to losing access to unique digital collections; risks for communities, individuals and the University. A failure to carry out digital preservation does not just risk the loss of valuable data but guarantees it.

University of Bristol’s Cultural Collections Digital Preservation Policy (2020)

Library and Archives Canada

The purpose of this policy framework is to articulate LAC’s principles for achieving its legislated preservation mandate.
LAC’s accountability for its preservation mandate relies on a policy interpretation of the concepts of custody, and control, that are referred to in the LAC Act. As these concepts are undefined in the LAC Act itself, the Preservation Policy Framework defines both concepts to establish the scope of LAC’s responsibilities more precisely.
This policy framework sets LAC’s broad direction for the preservation policy suite; ensures that principles underlying preservation activities are clear and shared across the institution, as well as that LAC preservation role and responsibilities are understood, and linked to the LAC mandate.

Library and Archives Canada Preservation Policy Framework (2022)

University of Nottingham

The purpose of this policy is to communicate the principles that shall guide the activities to deliver the Libraries digital preservation vision and secure the preservation of its digital information assets. The policy shall set out the University’s approach to digital preservation with reference to the following key areas: Industry standards and best practice

  • Content coverage
  • Overview of preservation strategy
  • Methods and levels of preservation
  • Implementation
  • Audit and certification
  • Policy review
  • Sustainability

University of Nottingham Libraries Digital Preservation and Access Policy (2021)

Scroll to top