Digital preservation policy

Scope & Purpose

This policy is predicated on points 4 and 5, Policy Principles, General and Policy Principles, Digital of the Churchill Archives Centre Collections Care and Conservation Policy.

This policy aims to establish consistent principles for the management of all material held in digital formats, whether digital copies of material in analogue media or born-digital materials.

This policy aims to incorporate requirements and standards for: digital storage and preservation; digitisation of analogue material; appraisal and cataloguing of born-digital material; and access to digital material.


Digital archival material must be preserved in perpetuity. The Churchill Archives Centre undertakes to preserve and provide access to future generations of researchers. The Churchill Archives Centre needs a digital repository to preserve and provide access to digital materials.

There must be established procedures for the secure and safe transfer ingest of digital archival material from portable storage media, digital transfer, and college systems. Digital archival material must be stored securely, so that master copies cannot be accidentally or maliciously altered or deleted, or confidential/personal material accessed by unauthorised persons.

The Churchill Archives Centre must be able to guarantee and maintain the authenticity and integrity of the digital archival material from time of accession.

Digital archival material must remain accessible. The material must be accessible to Archives Centre staff for appraisal and cataloguing, and thereafter to future generations of researchers, subject to any restrictions on access (e.g.: arising from exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act). Digital archival material must not become corrupted or unusable as a result of procedures or systems applied by the Churchill Archives Centre.

Full intellectual control of the digital archival material must be established and maintained through proper and consistent recording of creation, ownership, format, provenance, metadata, and copyright.

The Churchill Archives Centre must ensure that the digital archival material can be managed in accordance with: (a) any legal undertakings given to the depositors; (b) existing copyright legislation; (c) Data Protection legislation; (d) Freedom of information legislation; (e) Cabinet Office or Government sensitivity reviews of official information in personal records of public figures.

Policy Requirements


There must be a dedicated budget to fund digital preservation activities.


Staff must be trained in digital preservation procedures, and in the use of any relevant hardware and software. All Staff should be able to access, and provide access to, all digital material. All Staff should be able to ingest common file formats on common portable media or from digital transfer. It is expected that unusual formats, carriers or transfer methods are handled by a dedicated Digital Archivist.

Procedures and Standards

There must be clear procedures governing ingest, storage, processing of and access to digital archival materials. These will be developed in line with emerging standards and best practices for digital preservation.

Digital Repository

There must be a secure repository or appropriate systems for holding and processing and making available digital archival material. This must be capable of expanding to meet future Archives Centre needs.

Preservation actions

All digital media should be analysed prior to ingest to ensure that it will not cause damage to College systems, including the Digital Repository. Such checks should also identify items such as encrypted or password protected files that can not be accessed.

All digital media should be subject to regular integrity checks, including regularly scheduled checksum validation.

The extent and frequency of preservation actions should balance the need to maintain integrity of our collections with sustainability and energy efficiency.

Copies of all digital media should be stored in at least 2 geographically distinct locations.

Digital Accessions

Collections should be searched for digital media at the point of accession. A copy of all digital media accessioned should be saved in the Centre’s Digital Repository as soon as possible after the point of accession to allow for Preservation actions to be taken.

The Centre will maintain the ability to ingest commonly used portable media on-site. Where this is not possible, either due excessive cost or burden on the College IT department, external contractors should be approached. If it is not possible to create a copy of an item either on site or via external contractor, the item should be deaccessioned.

Digital Asset Register

The Centre must be aware of what quantities of digital archival media it holds, in which collections, and in what formats. Ideally there should be some attempt to assess the vulnerability and research value of digital archival materials.

Roles and Responsibilities

The implementation of the Digital Preservation Policy within the Churchill Archives Centre is the responsibility of the Senior Management Team of the Churchill Archives Centre under the leadership of the Director, who in turn reports to the Archives Committee and to the Governing Body of College. The day-to-day management of digital archival material will be devolved to the professional staff of the Archives Centre, who will be expected to follow agreed procedures following appropriate training.

The College Bursar has overall responsibility for College compliance with Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation, and the College Records Manager has delegated responsibility for the management through retention schedules of noncurrent College electronic records.

The College IT department play a role in advising on technical solutions for requirements, in helping to integrate solutions with the college’s IT systems, and in supporting the required hardware and software.


The policy will be approved by the Archives Committee and then communicated to all Archives staff. It will be used to inform discussions with potential depositors of digital archival material.


The policy will be audited as part of the National Archives accreditation review.

The Churchill Archives Centre might invite external audit of procedures from appropriate experts in the Cambridge University Libraries or other specialist repositories.


The policy will be reviewed annually by the Digital Archivist and then the Senior Management Team of the Archives Centre and any changes brought to the Archives Committee.

Reviewed by: Chris Knowles
Date: September 2023
Date of next review: October 2024