This article introduces the British Library’s Flashback project, which is exploring the practical challenges of preserving digital content currently stored on physical media (magnetic and optical disks). It reports on a Flashback proof of concept that conducted experiments on a sample of content from hybrid collection items dating from between 1980 and 2000. It describes some of the activities undertaken by the proof-of-concept stage of the project from July 2015 to February 2016, including the initial collection profiling and sampling of content, the extraction of content from the disks, and the project team’s experiments with identifying and applying preservation approaches to the content, which included both emulation and migration. It concludes with some general observations on the approaches taken by the proof of concept and shares some recent findings from the second phase of the project, which is concerned with the practical challenges of developing an implementation strategy for the Library’s capture and preservation of digital content currently stored on physical media.
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