The Digital Preservation Team at the National Library (NLN) has developed its first strategy for digital preservation. This strategy aims to steer, structure, and sharpen the focus of our digital preservation efforts over the coming two years.

Strategy Design

In developing the strategy, we aimed for writing a short and precise document. We wanted to avoid overwhelming the reader with a wall of text, or producing a verbose document that would be of little practical use. The purpose of the strategy would be to serve as a guideline for making key decisions in our digital preservation work.

Our design process was iterative, based on extensive review cycles. Over a span of roughly two months, a dedicated working group of selected team and departmental members met weekly. Each meeting began with a fresh review of the entire document’s text and structure, intentionally allowing time between sessions for individual reflection and idea maturation.

The initial meetings saw significant changes to the document’s structure, but we gradually achieved a stable framework, shifting our focus to refining the wording and content. It was also vital that the strategy remained flexible, avoiding putting constraints or lock-in in relation to external partners or financial considerations. The resulting concise, one-page document provides valuable guidance and a clear direction for NLN’s digital preservation efforts.

This strategy has been reviewed and ratified by the organization, initially by the team’s board of owners and subsequently by the NLN board of directors.

Structure of the Strategy Document

The document is divided into five main sections:

  • We begin with the rationale for digital preservation at the NLN, grounded in the mandates of Norwegian law.
  • Next, we outline the NLN’s vision for digital preservation. We use the concept of national digital cultural heritage here to define our scope. This concept highlights that our scope and responsibility extends beyond legally deposited materials, and also includes materials from other cultural institutions.
  • We then outline four specific goals. The goals aim at effective collection, secure storage, and active management of the digital collection, as well as ensuring current and future access to these materials. Acknowledging that immediate accessibility is a precondition for long-term preservation.
  • The document also sheds light on some major challenges facing the NLN when it comes to digital preservation, acknowledging the evolving nature of these obstacles.
  • Finally, we specify three strategic priorities: enhancing knowledge of digital preservation in the organization, adhering to established standards, and employing tools and technology responsibly and sustainably. These are underpinned by the current principles of digital preservation at the NLN.

Utilization of the strategy in the team

To make practical use of this strategy, the team has devised a roadmap outlining key digital preservation initiatives in the coming two years. All activities in the roadmap are tied back to the three strategic priorities.

Activities are prioritized and detailed at the monthly meeting with the board of owners, subsequently organized into “epics”1 within Atlassian Jira.

For each epic, we outline specific Jira tasks, clarifying objectives and approaches. For activities with unclear scope, the first task will be a “spike”2 where we try to break the activity into more manageable tasks, with clear specifications and “definition of done”3. This creates a cohesive thread from the overarching strategy down to the specific tasks to be carried out by the digital preservation team.

Figure showing excerpts from our strategy document, 2 year roadmap, monthly delivery plan, epics, and tasks on a kanban board.

Figure of our strategy, roadmap, delivery plan, epics, and tasks

This structured approach has proven effective. It has set a clear direction for NLN’s digital preservation work, constantly reminding the team of our strategic goals through daily Jira tasks and activities.

The strategy is available here.

  1. “Epic.” The Agile Dictionary, Accessed 19 Feb. 2024. ↩︎

  2. “Spike.” The Agile Dictionary, Accessed 19 Feb. 2024. ↩︎

  3. “Definition of done.” The Agile Dictionary, Accessed 19 Feb. 2024. ↩︎