Digital Preservation in Parliament

We work to advance the capacity to preserve Parliament’s digital resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Our ongoing work encompasses all of Parliament’s born-digital and digitised assets which require long-term preservation. This includes data, documents, records and other recorded information that has a specific value to Parliament.

The principles that guide our approach are included in our Policy:

Digital Preservation Policy (PDF PDF 355 KB)

The Strategy sets out what we are trying to achieve and why:

Digital Preservation Strategy (PDF PDF 122 KB)


Digital Preservation in Parliament FAQs
A series of frequently asked questions about Digital Preservation in Parliament

 

What is Digital Preservation?
Digital Preservation refers to the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital resources for as long as necessary.
For Parliament, this means making sure that our digital resources remain authentic and accessible in the future for anyone who needs them. Digital resources are most at risk during changes to work processes and technology. By planning and carrying out appropriate preservation strategies to mitigate these impacts contingencies can be put in place to ensure information can continue to be accessible.

Why is Digital Preservation important?
Digital resources are vulnerable. If we don’t actively work to ensure that these resources are preserved, valuable information can easily become lost or unusable.

Without access to the trusted digital information we need to preserve (for the long term) neither House will be able to support the work of its members or its administration, nor the requirements of the public for access to Parliamentary information wherever and whenever they want it in the future. It should be emphasised that these risks are real, substantial, and imminent. The longer we delay, the greater the risk to Parliament of significant data loss, reputational damage, and a failure to realise potential savings and other benefits.

How does Parliament preserve its digital resources?
Parliament has a digital repository which allows the Archives to actively take in (‘ingest’) and preserve unstructured (documents, emails etc.) digital resources. For information in other formats, the Parliamentary Archives are actively working to develop workflows and ingest processes from the source system.

Will everything Parliament creates be preserved?
No, only a small proportion of the information generated by Parliament is appropriate for permanent archival preservation. There are Records Management guidelines determining which information needs to be transferred to the Archives and preserved. The rest of the information needs to be kept for as long as it is useful, and then discarded appropriately. This may be after days, weeks, months or even years. The Digital Preservation team provides a service to ensure that digital resources are kept accessible for as long as it is needed.

Why does it need to happen now?
By taking action now, Parliament will invest to save on the future costs of recovering data that might otherwise become locked in obsolete systems. The Digital Preservation team will enable Parliament to conform to its statutory and regulatory obligations, including the Code of Practice issued by Government in July 2009 under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act, which recommends public bodies to take action to ensure that digital records remain accessible and are preserved for future generations.

What is the difference between digitisation and digital preservation?
Digitisation is a process of creating digital files from original physical ones (e.g. scanning or taking digital photographs of original paper documents or photographs). Once created, these digital files will also need preserving. Digital preservation is the process of preserving digital files, whether they exist because of a digitisation action, or whether they are born-digital (have only ever existed in digital format, e.g. email, office document, website).

How do I view Parliament’s digital archive?
Access to preserved digital resources is available via the Parliamentary Archives’ catalogue, Portcullis.

I’m an Information Management/Digital professional and I’d like to hear more about this – who should I contact?
Please contact the digital preservation team in the Parliamentary Archives.

 

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