One dangerous assumption that is commonly heard these days is that any kind of institutional repository will be able undertake long-term preservation. Indeed many people are still of the belief that putting some on the Internet will ensure long-term preservation.

Thus it’s useful to have some clarity about precisely what a digital repository is and whether it can be trusted for long-term preservation.

Various international bodies have come together to produce a checklist of 10 bullet points to define such a repository.

1. The repository commits to continuing maintenance of digital objects for identified community/communities.

2. Demonstrates organizational fitness (including financial, staffing structure, and processes) to fulfill its commitment.

3. Acquires and maintains requisite contractual and legal rights and fulfills responsibilities.

4. Has an effective and efficient policy framework.

5. Acquires and ingests digital objects based upon stated criteria that correspond to its commitments and capabilities.

6. Maintains/ensures the integrity, authenticity and usability of digital objects it holds over time.

7. Creates and maintains requisite metadata about actions taken on digital objects during preservation as well as about the relevant production, access support, and usage process contexts before preservation.

8. Fulfills requisite dissemination requirements.

9. Has a strategic program for preservation planning and action.

10. Has technical infrastructure adequate to continuing maintenance and security of its digital objects.

Compare these to many of the ‘repositories’ currently in existence and you will see how many do not guarantee long-term preservation.

Details are available on the Center for Research Libraries website.