Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Digital Preservation in Libraries: Preparing for a Sustainable Future (An ALCTS Monograph)


ALA Editions

Publication Date



Library and Information Science


Digital objects are composed of bitstreams, sequences of 1’s and 0’s, which require specific software (and in some cases hardware) to make the content understandable to human users. Digital objects, like word processing documents, digital images, websites, e-mails, datasets and so much more, are fragile, easy to modify, and susceptible to bit rot (loss or reordering parts of the bitstream) and obsolescence. Digital preservation is a combination of policies and workflows that dictate the active management of digital objects to ensure their continued authenticity and meaningful access over time. Obsolescence is one of the unending battles that digital preservationists fight. File formats are continually updated, hardware consistently replaced, and software abandoned. One common strategy to combat obsolescence is to migrate older digital objects into new formats. To keep these digital objects available for future users, long-term digital preservation is essential.


From: Digital Preservation in Libraries: Preparing for a Sustainable Future, edited by Jeremy Myntti and Jessalyn Zoom (Chicago: American Library Association, 2019).


© 2019 Erin Baucom