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UC San Diego Library to Transform Digital Preservation Possibilities for Sensitive Data

The UC San Diego Library is embarking on a new effort with the Texas Digital Library (TDL) to co-create a blueprint for the first nationally Distributed Digital Preservation (DDP) service for private and sensitive data. This initiative was recently awarded a one-year, $87,384 grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Libraries and archives have built robust community-driven networks for preservation of all types of content except sensitive data. As a result, personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI) in the custody of libraries, health science centers and archives, is at an escalated risk of loss. The goal of this project is to develop a nationwide model for a DDP service that would close gaps in current preservation offerings for sensitive content. 

“The exponential growth of digital data brings with it a number of management and preservation challenges,” said Erik Mitchell, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego. “This initiative will enlist experts across relevant sectors including health care, higher education, digital storage and preservation, and legal experts to ensure the development and launch of this DDP service will be relevant to a broad variety of national stakeholders.”

Grant deliverables will include a report modeling the establishment of a DDP service in the United States for sensitive data, templates for legal agreements, technical requirements for data transfer and cost modeling scenarios. These deliverables will assist the UC San Diego Library and the Texas Digital Library in enhancing their DDP offerings to include services for sensitive data and also help pave the way for other DDP services to do so as well.

Both the UC San Diego Library and the Texas Digital Library have well-established business models and extensive experience in building and providing DDP services. The UC San Diego Library manages Chronopolis, an internationally-recognized DDP service that spans four sites across the U.S. and is one of the earliest established DDP services in the world. 

Chronopolis has been in operation for more than a decade. Among its multiple project partners, the UC San Diego Library collaborates with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computing Studies (UMIACS), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Texas Digital Library to maintain geographically distinct data centers, which are referred to as “nodes.” Chronopolis offers preservation storage through the DuraCloud and Texas Digital Library services.

The Texas Digital Library — a consortium of Texas higher education institutions — builds capacity for preserving, managing and providing access to unique digital collections. In 2017, the Texas Digital Library joined the Chronopolis DDP network, providing access to Chronopolis services to its members and serving as a replicating node. 

“We are excited to combine TDL’s own deep experience with distributed digital preservation services with that of the UC San Diego Library to design services that accommodate the needs of collections containing private and sensitive information,” said Kristi Park, executive director of the Texas Digital Library. “This project addresses some key gaps in current digital preservation strategies for libraries, archives and health science centers.” 

This collaborative initiative was one of 36 projects funded by the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. Visit the IMLS website to learn more. 


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