The Cost of Keeping It: Towards Effective Cost-Modeling for Digital Preservation at the University of Maryland

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Dohe, Kate, and David Durden. "The Cost of Keeping It: Towards Effective Cost-modeling for Digital Preservation." iPres 2018 Annual Conference Proceedings, September 2018.


With the introduction of tools like the DLF’s Digitization Cost Calculator, forecasting and fundraising for digitization projects can be achieved with transparency and clarity. However, estimating and articulating the considerable long-term expenses of digital preservation lags behind. The surfeit of digital materials entering cultural heritage institutions introduce significant costs that rapidly outstrip the costs of digitization, and these costs are challenging to represent clearly at the outset of a project–either due to obscure technical details, the array of pricing options for storage and preservation systems, and the impossibility of predicting the price of "keeping it forever." In our library, we are in the early stages of developing a cost model for digital preservation systems loosely aligned to the costs of systems and activities within the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation framework. This work is intended to articulate the ongoing costs of desirable and essential digital curation activities to digital project stakeholders, as well as administrators–with the ultimate goal of sustainable funding for responsible digital preservation. Our "Digital Preservation Cost Calculator" has been successfully used to estimate project expenditures in preparation for grant applications and philanthropic financing requests.We are exploring prospective features that can transition this tool from a local budgeting tool to a full-fledged digital preservation application. This paper will introduce our use case and requirements, current development challenges, and propose a prospective roadmap and options for community engagement