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British Standard for the storage, transportation and maintenance of media for use in data processing and information storage. The standard originally came out in 1973 (ancient!) but was replaced in 1988 (which is still pretty old). A summary of its recommendations appears on the DPC site here.

The Standard only deals with tape and CD-ROMs.  For long term storage of CD-ROMs, an environment of 18-22 deg C and 35-45% RH is recommended. Operating conditions can fall outside these but you need to have acclimatisation procedures.

You should note that the BSI’s own site says “this standard has been declared obsolescent as it is no longer felt to be relevant,” though they will still charge you £72 to buy a copy. (BSI site accessed 9 Feb 2008).

I’m not aware of any costings which have actually been done, but my gut feeling is that the balance digital vs. paper comes out in favour of digital. (By “paper” I’m including parchment, photographs etc too.)

1. The biggest single ongoing cost in any repository is staffing. A paper-based archives service has to run searchrooms for users to consult the materials, where users are supervised and security is ensured. So, paper-based repositories have to employ receptionists, searchroom assistants, relief staff to cover when other staff are away etc. A digital repository which makes its assets available over the web does not incur any of these costs.

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Smmary of responses from archives-nra email list:

—–Original Message—–From: Archivists, conservators and records managers. Sent: 11 December 2007 15:54

Subject: open source repository software for digital archives – summary of responses
Many thanks to those of you who responded to my enquiry about using institutional repository software to manage born-digital archives for long-term preservation. A summary of responses follows:I was recommended to consult DCC (Digital Curation Centre) and AHDS (Arts and Humanities Data Service) for advice. DCC have produced technology watch papers on the various IR software available –
and AHDS have a useful webpage about the development of their repository.
West Yorkshire Archive Service are currently testing Fedora for the purpose of managing digital archives. It was suggested to contact Wellcome Institute where Fedora has been implemented as a digital preservation testbed, and I was advised that the University of Hull’s RepoMMan Project documentation – particularly D-D4 – is much clearer and more comprehensive for beginners than the user documents on Fedora’s own websites. Finally, the University of London Computer Centre got in touch to share their experience in developing digital repositories. Staff in the Digital Preservation team developed Fedora for the recently launched Linnean Society online archive of digitised images. (

ULCC also brought to my attention that as part of the PARADIGM project there was a test comparison between Fedora and Dspace software, ie for use within a Digital Archive context. It was found that Fedora seemed the better choice for digital archives, as it was more flexible and customisable. On the Digital Presevation Training Programme course at ULCC, attendees have been warned that you do need considerable IT support in order to customise software like Fedora. PARADIGM project officers, and the National Library of Wales (who have implemented Fedora) are two organisations worth contacting about specifications for a digital archive.

Some more links c/o ULCC: Dspace at Cambridge example – See blog posting about comparisons of software: Thanks to all who responded – I hope these links are helpful for list members. As I’m about to leave this post, my colleagues here at the Red Cross will be following this up in the new year.

Hi again,

I have been asked to correct a mistake in my previous summary about ULCC’s development of the Linnean Society digital archive. This was built on Eprints, not Fedora as I stated. My apologies for this mistake! More info here:

MF also pointed out the UK-centric nature of the resources I listed, and brought to my attention RODA in Portugal:

Thanks all!

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