The British Library (BL) Digital Library Programme (DLP) has a broad set of objectives to achieve over the next few years, from web-archiving to the ingest of e-journals through to mass digitisation of newspapers and books. These projects are decided by the DLP programme board and are managed by the wider corporate governance structure which includes our legal deposit responsibilities. As part of this work it was identified by the Digital Preservation Team (DPT) that a significant number of handheld media (CDROM, DVD, Tape) within the BL collections may be at increased risk of obsolescence or decay due to the increased time they may spend on handheld media. The DPT and DLP agreed that an assessment should be undertaken and the results used to help prioritize future ingest. The DPT conducted this risk assessment exercise in order to assess the condition of the BL digital collections, identify strategies to mitigate those risks, and recommend and plan actions to be taken. A risk assessment methodology based on the AS/NZS 4360:2004 standard was applied in a representative manner across these collections. The Risk Assessment concluded that the BL’s digital collections face an array of risks that will require action on a number of fronts. Almost all of the hand held (physical carrier) collections were assessed to be at high risk. The greatest and most imminent threat of loss is from media degradation. Failure rates for discs within the collections have reached high levels (up to 3%). Additionally substantial quantities of digital objects are stored as single copies only, on handheld media in danger of decay. This stark warning was illustrated by many examples of disc decay that have been encountered and is backed up by the evidence from external research into handheld media lifetimes. Digital content will continue to be lost unless action is taken now. The report made a number of specific recommendations to mitigate the highest risks facing the BL’s digital collections. These include: - Secure collections that are currently stored on handheld media as a matter of urgency. (Move the collections from CD/DVD etc) - Perform further assessment to gain a better understanding of the media failure rates across the different collections - Address the root causes of a number of the risks facing the collections, by streamlining and enhancing standards, check-in procedures and other policy issues In order to achieve this a number of organisational changes have had to be undertaken that will eventually become measurable benefits.
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