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  Preservation Procedure Policy: Define significant properties
Related Guidance Policy
Digital Object
Definition/ Description To enable the organisation to choose the proper functional preservation strategy it needs to define the significant properties for each type of digital collection to be preserved. The decisions should be documented properly.
Significant properties are defined by Jisc as: “(…)essential attributes of a digital object which affect its appearance, behaviour, quality and usability. They can be grouped into categories such as content, context (metadata), appearance (e.g. layout, colour), behaviour (e.g. interaction, functionality) and structure (e.g. pagination, sections). Significant properties must be preserved over time for the digital object to remain accessible and meaningful.” (Source: Jisc)
Another expression used these days is “Preservation Intent “, see reference article in Further Reading.

Why Choosing a preservation strategy after defining significant properties enables the organisation to perform consistent and viable long term functional preservation.
Risks The risk of losing either access to the digital collection or comprehensibility of the digital collection is impending if the organisation neither performs functional preservation at all nor performs functional preservation without analysing both significant properties and influential organisational and technological factors beforehand. 
Life cycle stage Preservation Planning, Preservation Action, Transform, Migrate, Access Use and Reuse
Stakeholder Depositor: needs to be assured that the organisation ensures continued accessibility of the digital material
Consumer:have an interest in continued accessibility of the digital material
Information Manager: has to decide on functional preservation strategies
Technology Manager/System Architect:have to provide technology solutions for functional preservation
Cross Reference Bit preservation
Functional preservation
Examples National Library of Wales : In implementing this policy with regard to its own collections, NLW will: […]Define the significant properties that need to be preserved for particular classes of resources.”Source
Control Policy Once the significant properties have been established – for example that the experience of watching a moving image should be the same after preservation, this can be described using the specific measureable aspects of the file & its contents.
An example for a collection of MPEG2 files, the following control policies might set some of the significant properties:
  • File format MUST be MPEG2
  • The height of the video track >= 586
  • Image width of the video >= 720
  • Video bitrate >= 6000Whereas an example for a collection of digitized newspapers might include:
  • Colour model preserved MUST be TRUE
  • Compression type MUST be NONE
Questions to forster discussion
  • Has your organisation defined for each collection the significant properties that should be preserved?
  • Have you involved all the stakeholders in your organisation to define the significant properties?

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