Tutorial: Making a preservation strategy

This tutorial is one of three covering a basic plan for preservation: making a map (of what you have), making a strategy (for what you want to do with what you have), and finally making a specific preservation plan (the actions needed, with costs and a timetable).

Strategic planning begins with a strategy for the whole collection: why it exists, what it holds or documents or represents, why it matters, and who is served by the collection. The overall collection strategy is then used as the context or justification for a preservation strategy: what is to be kept, including how and how long, in order to fulfill the collection strategy.

A preservation strategy needs two kinds of information: top down and bottom up. The top down information is the collection strategy, or the mission of the collection. The bottom up information is the collection map: a physical description of the content. A map gives information on the media contained in the collection, the condition of those media, the storage facilities and of course the vital issue of metadata: the ‘knowledge map’ of the collection. This mapping process is covered in the tutorial ‘Mapping your collection”. 

The preservation strategy sets out what needs to be done to keep the collection usable and to meet the goals and aspirations of the collection strategy.

Making a preservation strategy is a process of triage: deciding urgency and priority, arranging the parts of the collection in a priority order and finally making a timetable for when a preservation action will be needed for each area in the collection map.

The preservation strategy will then be implemented by a detailed programme of preservation actions, with costs and a timetable. That detailed programme of work is described in the preservation plan, covered in the third tutorial ‘Planning your preservation project’.