This policy statement formalizes Indiana University Libraries’ commitment to meeting the challenges of long-term stewardship, preservation, and access to digital content. The policy framework comprises a set of guidelines from which procedures can be developed that meet accepted standards, use resources effectively, and support the mission and goals of the Libraries. The policy framework establishes guiding principles, identifies the scope of digital preservation activities and content to be preserved, cites institutional commitments and obligations that depend on effective stewardship, identifies stakeholders and responsibilities, describes guidelines for deposit, and establishes a basis and time frame for ongoing review.

Guiding Principles

In undertaking digital preservation activities, Indiana University Libraries will operate in accordance with the following principles:


Indiana University is dedicated to providing current and future access to scholarly and historically significant digital objects that are within the purview of this policy, as broadly and openly as possible. Digital Preservation is only one piece of the digital curation lifecycle; access is fundamental both to ensuring the success of preservation activities and to providing avenues for the creation of new knowledge.

Authenticity and Integrity

The ability to maintain trust of scholarly outputs is paramount to long-term preservation efforts. Indiana University Libraries will take every step possible to ensure the authenticity and integrity of all digital objects. Provenance and fixity information will be maintained alongside every object.


Digital preservation is a campus- and university-wide endeavor that requires partnerships and input from various stakeholders. Where possible, Indiana University Libraries will act as a leader in digital preservation efforts across both the Bloomington campus and the entire university. To support this mission, Indiana University Libraries further commits to participating in local, national, and international efforts related to digital preservation.

Compliance with Standards and Best Practices

Indiana University Libraries will comply with current community-developed standards and best practices where they exist related to the creation, maintenance, storage, and delivery of digital objects and corresponding metadata.

Open Access

Providing open access to digital objects, when appropriate, is especially crucial to the scholarly record, as it allows future students, scholars, and the general public to freely use, and often re-use, past scholarly outputs and historically significant artifacts.

Outreach and Education

Indiana University Libraries will provide regular training for its faculty and staff working in areas related to digital preservation. Indiana University Libraries will also provide outreach to the university community in order to educate staff, faculty, and students about best practices in digital curation.

Rights and Privacy

Indiana University Libraries will provide access to digital objects while also respecting and upholding the intellectual property rights of authors and privacy concerns of donors. Rights management actions will be documented and rights information will be preserved with digital content. Indiana University Libraries will provide education to authors and donors in regards to their rights, and will obtain prior consent whenever possible. The Indiana University Libraries will also ensure that its infrastructure supports necessary access control settings in order to support content with various rights.


Indiana University Libraries is fully committed to providing staff, training, and equipment, as well as funding and additional resources as needed, to ensure the long-term sustainability of digital objects that fall within the scope of this policy.


Indiana University Libraries will ensure that the necessary hardware, software, and expertise are procured and maintained in order to support the long-term sustainability of digital objects. The Libraries will work with its partners to monitor technological advancements to ensure that the local technical infrastructure is maintained in accordance with current best practices.


Indiana University Libraries strives to consistently document practices, procedures, policies, and strategies related to digital preservation efforts on a regular basis and to make this documentation publicly accessible wherever possible.


Indiana University Libraries is responsible for the sustainability of digital objects and aims to provide long-term access to usable versions that we are committed to preserving for our community. The Libraries' mandate for digital preservation, however, is multifaceted, as the unique needs of various content types require different preservation actions and allow for different provisions of access. Although content in the Indiana University Libraries digital infrastructure is primarily intended to be made publicly available for the broadest possible dissemination, some content will be restricted for a limited period of time in accordance with state and federal laws, to prevent unauthorized access to content of a sensitive or confidential nature, and in accordance with submission agreements as stipulated by the donor of the content. Access and use of content will be in compliance with applicable laws and Indiana University policies relating to intellectual property, copyright, and ownership rights.


The scope of the Indiana University Libraries' responsibility for digital preservation derives from a variety of factors, including source, ownership and content type.

Libraries Content

Indiana University Libraries is responsible for the ongoing curation and management of all content owned by internal units. Indiana University Libraries is responsible for digital content generated from analog and digital reformatting projects as well as content that is born-digital.

University Content

Indiana University Libraries is responsible for the long-term preservation of all content owned by the Trustees of Indiana University once it is deposited into a digital repository or physical collection managed by the Libraries. The Libraries is responsible for working with other units to determine whether and how items should be transferred to and maintained by the Libraries.

Faculty and Student Content

Indiana University Libraries has a strong stake in ensuring the persistence of scholarship and educational resources created by the university's faculty and students. While the Libraries are best able to ensure the sustainability of such content when it is deposited into the university's institutional repository, IUScholarWorks, this is not always ideal or possible. In such cases, Indiana University Libraries is responsible for assisting faculty and students in identifying appropriate field-specific repositories and ensuring that such external repositories have a mandate for long-term preservation as well as documented preservation policies and procedures.

Open Access and Public Domain Content

Indiana University Libraries is committed to providing the highest level of access to digital objects as possible, and as such, promotes the principle of open access. Further, Indiana University Libraries is committed to ensuring the long-term viability of content in the public domain that has been determined to fit within the collecting scope of the Libraries.

Licensed Content

Indiana University Libraries aims to ensure that all licensed content vendors participate in community preservation programs such as LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, or Portico or have a robust, independent preservation plan in place. In lieu of this, Indiana Universities Libraries will endeavor to negotiate licenses with vendors that will enable the Libraries to maintain a local copy for preservation of content licensed in perpetuity.

Content Originating Elsewhere

Indiana University Libraries often works with affiliated faculty or units outside of Indiana University to curate digital objects identified as fitting within the Libraries' collecting scope. Where possible, Indiana University Libraries is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate intellectual property licensing is in place to ensure long-term preservation capabilities when content is ingested into its repositories. When this is not possible, the Libraries will provide guidance for content owners to ensure the appropriate curation measures are in place to meet the unique needs of the content.

Roles and Responsibilities

All Indiana University Libraries staff assist in the implementation of this policy as appropriate to their roles and responsibilities. The Dean of the Libraries is responsible for appointing the appropriate staff to ensure the maintenance and review of this policy. Library Administration is responsible for ensuring that every digital object is maintained within a collection that has a corresponding collection owner. The supervisor of the collection owner is responsible for ensuring that a new owner is designated should the incumbent vacate their role. All Indiana University Libraries staff are accountable to their managers for compliance with this policy and related policies, standards, and guidelines.

The Indiana University Libraries has primary responsibility for digital preservation at Indiana University, but it is also a shared responsibility across the organization. All responsible units, content creators, and curators with a custodial role for digital objects identified for long-term preservation have a responsibility to actively contribute to the intent and priorities necessary to fulfill this policy.

Guidelines for Ingest

In order to ensure long-term preservation of digital objects, Indiana University Libraries will ensure that specific steps are taken to align with best practices as part of the ingest process. This includes replication across multiple storage infrastructures and regular fixity checking within the repository and storage environments to ensure bit-level preservation. This also includes maintaining minimum necessary metadata with all objects.

Prior to ingest into the Indiana University Libraries digital infrastructure, content managers are required, with assistance from members of Library Technologies, to:

  • provide contact information for the content manager, including departmental affiliation, and a contingency contact in the event that the originally assigned content manager is unable to serve in this role;
  • provide adequate documentation (donor agreement, memorandums of agreement, etc.) that states terms of use, with an emphasis whenever possible on use/re-use for teaching or research purposes; ensure alignment with repository-level policies related to descriptive metadata, recommended metadata standards, and minimum descriptive metadata requirements that captures the objects' provenance, aboutness, and context;
  • ensure alignment with repository-level policies related to file formats, recommended format standards, and minimal technical metadata requirements that captures the objects' authenticity, integrity, and reliability;
  • ensure alignment with university policies for sensitive, private, and restricted data (see Guiding Principles and Appendix II: Related Indiana University Policies and Standards)

In addition to the requirements above, the content managers and members of Library Technologies should verify that there are no proprietary licenses or encumbrances which may restrict the Libraries' ability to store, manipulate, or migrate data from one format or standard to another. In the event that the Libraries accepts proprietary content, the content managers should assist in identifying sufficient non-proprietary tools to manipulate and provide access to the content in a standard format.

Policy Review

This policy will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, with a review occurring no more than once per year and no less than once per three years.

Appendix I: Glossary

Access: The processes for the retrieval of digital objects from storage media, through the use of catalogs, repositories, and/or other tools.

Acquire: To take physical and legal custody of digital objects.

Bit-level preservation: Bit-level preservation is a minimum standard for digital preservation. It focuses on ensuring the integrity of bitstream representations of digital objects.

Bitstream: A sequence of data in binary form. Digital objects are stored as bitstreams, which are not understandable to a human being without data to interpret them.

Content Manager: A content manager is defined by IU Libraries as the person with primary custodial power over a discreet collection of digital content.

Digital Object: An entity in which one or more content files and their corresponding metadata are united, physically and/or logically, through the use of a digital wrapper.

Complex Digital Object: A complex digital object includes two or more content files (and their format variants or derivatives) and corresponding metadata. The content files are related as parts of a whole and are sequenced logically, such as pages or sides.

Simple Digital Object: A simple digital object includes one content file (and its format variants or derivatives) and the metadata for that file.

Digital Curation: Digital curation the functions or tasks associated with organizing a collection of digital objects including the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection, and archiving of digital objects.

Digital Preservation: Digital preservation is a comprehensive set of managed activities aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of digital objects, beyond the limits of storage failure and technological  obsolescence.

Fixity: The quality of a digital object to be stable and resist change. Checksums are cryptographic hash functions used to ensure the integrity of objects.

Minimum Necessary Metadata: Indiana University Libraries defines minimum necessary metadata as title and unique identifier.

Open Access: Open access refers to online research outputs that are without financial, legal, or technical barriers to access and are frequently provided with fewer restrictions on use.

Provenance: Information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection. 

Public Domain: Public domain refers to digital objects, generally published works, whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable.

Representation Information: Representation information is any information required to understand and render both the digital material and the associated metadata.

Stewardship: Overseeing and protecting digital objects deemed to be of long-term value. 

Trustworthy Digital Repository: A repository whose mission is to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital objects to its designated community, now and in the future.

Appendix II: Related Indiana University Policies and Standards

Management of Institutional Data: http://policies.iu.edu/policies/categories/information-it/data-management/DM-01.shtml 

Disclosing Institutional Information to Third Parties: http://policies.iu.edu/policies/categories/information-it/data-management/DM-02.shtml

Standards for Management of Institutional Data: http://policies.iu.edu/policies/categories/information-it/data-management/DM-01.shtml

Security of Information Technology Resources: http://policies.iu.edu/policies/categories/information-it/it/IT-12.shtml

Appendix III: Consulted Policies and Resources

California Digital Library Glossary: https://cdlib.org/resources/technologists/glossary-of-digital-library-terms/

Cornell University Library Digital Preservation Policy Framework: https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/11230/cul-dp-framework.pdf?sequence=1

Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) Preservation Policy: https://dans.knaw.nl/en/preservationplan/

Digital Curation Centre: http://www.dcc.ac.uk

Ohio State University Digital Preservation Policy Framework: https://library.osu.edu/documents/SDIWG/Digital_Preservation_Policy_Framework.pdf

Written by the Digital Preservation Policy Framework Task Force and passed by the Libraries' Leadership Operations Team on 3/27/2017.