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Programme Background

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The CEDARS Project
CURL Exemplars in Digital ARchiveS

Project web site

Programme area
Digital Preservation

Contact details

Ms Clare Jenkins CEDARS Project Director ,
BLPES, London School of Economics, 10 Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HD
Phone: (+44) (0)171 955 6314 Fax:(+44) (0)171 955 7454

Ms Kelly Russell CEDARS Project Manager,
Edward Boyle Library, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT
Phone: (+44) (0)113 233 6386 Fax:(+44) (0)113 233 5539

Project description

as of April 16th 1998


In recent years university libraries have included a growing number of digital information resources in their collections. At present there is no legal obligation nor formal mechanisms for ensuring that such digital information is preserved for posterity. As libraries' reliance upon such resources increases, they become stakeholders in ensuring that those resources are maintained over the longer term. They are responsible for ensuring that these resources may be as accessible to users in 10, 20 or 200 years time as they are now.

Just as academic libraries have an ongoing responsibility for the preservation and access of paper-based resources, they now have a new and more complex responsibility for digital resources. For digital materials, unlike paper, a library continues to have responsibility for ensuring long-term access to them irrespective of whether the burden for physically preserving that resource fall directly to the library or to a third party agency. For example in the case of an electronic journal, a publisher might have the ultimate role of preserving the physical digital object but the research library is responsible for providing long term access to this material for its researchers.

The need to devise strategies for digital preservation is both pressing and immediate and these strategies will need to encompass all forms of digital information resources.


With these issues in mind the CEDARS project aims to address strategic, methodological and practical issues and will provide guidance for libraries in best practice for digital preservation. CURL (The Consortium of University Research Libraries) is uniquely placed to lead this project. Digital preservation is a key issue for all its members. Under the overall direction of the CURL Management Board, CEDARS will be based across three lead sites (Oxford, Leeds and Cambridge). Wider involvement from the community will come through focus groups, workshops and discussion lists.

Project Objectives

The project aims to investigate strategies which will ensure that the digital information resources typically included in library collections may, with other non-digital objects, be preserved over the longer term. It order to achieve this aim the project plans to

  • promote awareness about the importance of digital preservation, both amongst university libraries and their users, and amongst the data creating and data supplying communities upon which they depend.
  • identify, document and disseminate strategic frameworks within which individual libraries can develop collection management policies which are appropriate to their needs and which can guide the necessary decision-making to safeguard the long-term viability of any digital resources which are included in their collections.
  • investigate, document and promote methods appropriate to the long-term preservation of different classes of digital resources typically included in library collections, and to develop costed and scaleable models, There is an enormous range of digital resources (e.g. text, sound, pictures, moving images). In focusing on the following categories ,the project intends to identify techniques which can be generalised and extended to the full range of digital materials:
  • digitised primary resources
  • electronic journals
  • large online databases
  • electronic ephemera
  • digital resources in which the intellectual content in bound to structure, form and behaviour

In meeting its objectives, the project intends, wherever possible, to make use of work that has already been done and to build upon existing expertise in digital preservation and digital collection management.

Key deliverables

Key deliverables of the project include:

  • guidelines for developing collection management policies which will ensure the long-term viability of any digital resources included in the collection;
  • demonstrator projects to test and promote the technical and organisational feasibility of a chosen strategy for digital preservation;
  • methodological guidelines developed by the demonstrator projects providing guidance about how to preserve different classes of digital resources;
  • clearly articulated preferences about data formats, content models and compression techniques which are most readily and cost-effectively preserved;
  • publications of benefit to the whole higher education community, available on the WWW.


Many of the recommendations of the Follett Report related to ways in which the use of information technology in the electronic library can help to alleviate some of the problems of university libraries today. The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) established the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) as a direct response to the Follett Report. The programme has a budget of about £15 million over 3 years, and its objectives include the use of IT to improve delivery of information through increased use of electronic library services, to allow academic libraries to cope better with growth, to explore different models of intellectual property management and to encourage new methods of scholarly publishing. Now in its third phase, eLib is now funding integration projects to build exemplar hybrid libraries (those which provide access to both digital and non-digital materials) including several Z39.50 pilot projects to link library catalogues. Phase 3 will also directly address issues of concern for the long-term preservation and access to digital resources.

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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