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  Preservation Procedure Policy:  Plan functional preservation
Related Guidance Policy
Functional preservation
Definition/ Description A number of factors or conditions may influence the choice of preservation strategy; these factors can be both organisational and technical

The organisation needs to consider a number of issues before entering into functional preservation such as:
  • Technological changes:  the major driver for accessing and understanding the digital material in the future.
  • Risks: the organisation needs to be aware of the risks that can affect the future understanding of the digital material. The organisation also needs to decide the “risk appetite” of the organisation i.e. how much risk the organisation is prepared to take? These could be technological risks, e.g. format obsolescence, lack of sufficient tools to perform the preservation actions properly etc.,  or organisational risks e.g. budget cuts, insufficient technical expertise  etc.
  • The needs of the Designated Community - what do they need in order to be able to access and understand the digital material in the short and the long term?
  • The use of standards – the organisation needs to decide if and what standard to use.
Why The organisation should consider all current technological and organisational risks to be able to ensure continued long term access to the digital collection.
Risks Uncertainty about the factors and risks affecting the functional preservation could endanger the continued preservation of and access to the digital collection.
Life cycle stage Preservation Planning
Stakeholder Depositor: the organization needs to ensure continued accessibility of the digital material
Consumer:  has an interest in continued accessibility of the digital material
Information Manager: has to decide on policies for functional preservation
Technology Manager/System Architect: have to provide technology solutions for functional preservation
Cross Reference Costs
Bit Preservation
Digital Object
Examples The Royal Library, Denmark : “Logical [functional] preservation must safeguard the digital materials against technological obsolescence, so that both now and in the future will be able to read, understand and display/play the materials with standard programs and equipment.” (Source: [
Control Policy In preparation for creating control policies, the organisation may identify:
  • The possible user communities/roles                        This could be very specific or at a minimum can relate to one of three roles: creator; manager/curator and end user.
  • The collections which will need different preservation strategies
  • The risks for which mitigation actions have to be defined
  • General approach to the use of standards.Some of these results will be used in formulating the preservation cases, and some will be used for control policies themselves.

    An example of a control statement would be:
  • All metadata describing preservation activities MUST comply with the PREMIS standard.
Questions to foster discussions
  • Does your organisation have a plan for functional preservation?
  • Has your organisation considered how technological change will effect long term preservation? 
  • Has your organisation considered the risks to the future understanding of the digital material?
  • Has your organisation considered the needs of the user community?
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