Web preservation is a big topic and we’re not even pretending to deal with all of it. The aspect that we care about – that JISC believes the community is looking for help with – is fairly well-defined. We want to help institutions make effective decisions about preserving web resources, and help them implement those decisions in a way that is cost-effective and non-disruptive.
Making effective decisions
At its simplest level, this means deciding what to keep and what not to keep. There may be many drivers for these decisions – institutional policy, legal requirements and research interests are just a few. The decisions need to relate not just to what is to be kept, but why and who for. That’s because those requirements may have a bearing on how you choose to go about the job, or whose responsibility it is to carry it out. Not everything needs to be kept, and even when it does, it may not be your institution’s responsibility to keep it.
Implementing those decisions
Carrying out your decisions – keeping things, throwing things away, or ensuring that other people keep things – can be the trickiest part of the process. You may know you want to preserve the prospectus for past years, but can you be sure that your CMS, or the Internet Archive, or some local use of web-harvesting tools is going to do this job effectively for you ? You may be being told that some part of your web infrastructure would be easier to preserve if you avoided the use of certain features, or used a different authoring system. Is that true, and if it is, what are the negative consequences of such decisions ?
The handbook which will be one of the project’s outputs will attempt to answer these quesions in a way that makes sense to everyone who might be involved in the process. We want to help to make it easier to take decisions about preservation and to know what tools, systems or working methods can be employed to help you implement them.
The workshops are the primary mechanism we’re using to test whether the handbook makes sense to the people it’s aimed at, and that they tackle the problems that people are actually facing.