Digital Preservation Program

Two women operating ENIAC (U.S. Army Photo)

Tips for Creating and Managing Your Digital Records

Icon of folder and up arrow Submit Digital Records to the Archives

The South Dakota State Archives is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary and secondary resources which document the political, social, cultural, economic, and natural history of Dakota Territory and the State of South Dakota. Increasingly, these resources are created and maintained in digital formats. Records maintained in digital formats are inherently susceptible to a variety of factors which may contribute to the permanent loss of their content. Such factors include hardware, software, physical storage media, and file format obsolescence. For this reason, unlike most records stored on paper, microfilm, or other eye-readable formats, digital records require early and sustained preservation attention in order to ensure their long-term authenticity and accessibility.

Levels of Digital Preservation Support*

The State Archives has established three distinct levels of preservation support for digital archival records and manuscripts. The level of preservation support that will be applied to digital materials is based on the format of the records at the time of transfer to the archives. The rules governing how and to what degree specific digital formats will be preserved by the State Archives are outlined in our Digital Preservation Rules.

  • Full Support:  The State Archives will take all reasonable actions to maintain usability including migration, emulation, or normalization. The State Archives will ensure data fixity for all original and transformed files and will provide access to transformed files. 
  • Limited Support:  The State Archives will take limited steps to maintain usability. The State Archives will undertake strategic monitoring of the file format and may actively transform a file from one format to another to mitigate format obsolescence. The State Archives will ensure data fixity for all original and transformed files and will provide access to transformed files.
  • Basic Support: The State Archives will provide access to the item in its submission file format only and will work to ensure data fixity of the submitted file. No transformations will be enacted on these files for preservation purposes.

The following chart outlines the preservation tasks associated with each level of preservation support:

Required Preservation Tasks

Full Support

Limited Support

Basic Support

Generate preservation metadata to support accessibility, provenance, and management over time

Perform fixity checks on a regular basis using proven checksum methods

Periodically refresh storage media

Provide for discovery of objects via online descriptive finding aid (does not necessarily include online access to digital content)

Undertake strategic monitoring of file format

Plan and perform file normalization if necessary

Plan and perform migration to succeeding format upon obsolescence

Offer long-term storage in a trusted preservation-worthy format

*Adapted from Binghamton University Libraries Digital Preservation Guidelines