UCT joins the Digital Preservation Coalition

21 Oct 2020
21 Oct 2020

The University of Cape Town (UCT) recently joined the Digital Preservation Coalition, a global community that enables the institution to achieve a secure digital legacy and make significant, lasting contributions to relevant Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.

Digital preservation

On 1 October 2020, UCT joined the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), a global community that seeks to secure the preservation of digital resources internationally in order to safeguard the global digital memory and knowledge base for the future.

Niklas Zimmer, manager of the Digital Library Services (DLS) department at UCT Libraries explains: "Our move to join the DPC is encouraged and supported by Open Sciences practices, as well as the decolonisation of UCT – allowing for discoverability, access and reusability of our institutional outputs and collections."  Digital preservation ensures the availability of UCT digital assets in perpetuity – as responsibly access-controlled, citable scholarly resources. This increases the global stature and recognition of UCT as a university for Africa. 

Joining the global community of the DPC enables UCT to make significant, lasting contributions to relevant Sustainable Development Goals in Africa, which rely on perpetual access to trusted scientific and cultural data. Furthermore, "through joining the DPC, we are opening the doors to an immense global community of experts who are eager to help us with developing skills for which there are currently virtually no training opportunities in Southern Africa,” says Zimmer.

Tailored digital preservation strategies and knowledge exchange

The DPC is member-owned and member-run. It delivers a programme which is designed around member needs and is of benefit to the global digital preservation community. The DPC also enables their members to deliver resilient long-term access to digital content and services, helping them to derive enduring value from digital assets and raise awareness of the strategic, cultural and technological challenges they face in pursuit of their digital preservation goals.

The DPC's community engagements will assist UCT in developing tailored digital preservation strategies and procedures to work in line with the latest practices and standards. This makes digital preservation achievable, sector-specific and supportive of efforts to ensure services that address challenges faced in Southern Africa. 

The DPC also provides access to conferences and training focussing on the latest developments in digital preservation. Some of these offerings are partially or fully funded for members. These seminars offer opportunities to develop and retain competent and responsive staff members that will be able to address digital preservation challenges. 

UCT's Digital Library Services staff members will engage with various researchers in order to provide training and impart knowledge of digital preservation to the research community. This will help sustain the delivery and maintenance of high-quality and sustainable digital preservation services through knowledge exchange and research and development.

Izolo – UCT's digital home for archival collections

In 2019, UCT launched a digital preservation platform called Izolo (Zulu for 'yesterday'), which is a home for archival collections at UCT and offers resources and assistance with preserving data for the long term. The database is built on open source archivematica and AtoM (Access to Memory) software solutions, based on international, open standards for archival description and digital preservation.

The key features of Izolo are:

  • Long-term access
  • Secure sharing of records
  • Adherence to OAIS standards
  • Automated retention schedules
  • Smart management of regulated data
  • Secure, on-premise managed storage service
  • Ongoing file normalisation to ensure formats are always readable
  • Trusted data exports that prove the authenticity of records in their original state
  • A flexible data organisation model that ensures data is where it needs to be
  • Extraction and enrichment of metadata for easy search and discovery
  • In-built mechanisms for secure removal of data
  • Integration with reporting and analytics tools
  • In-built validation, integrity and fixity checks
  • Secure, user-permissioned access
  • 100% data integrity guaranteed
  • Search and discovery
  • Investigation

For more information, visit the Digital Preservation page on the DLS website. You can also contact data curation officers Thandokazi Maceba and Ya’qub Ebrahim with any questions about DPC or Izolo.

(Story: Thandokazi Maceba, Photo: Pexels)