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Program Digital Collections Management Compendium

Responsibility for Digital Collections Content and Storage Systems

This guidance states the Library’s practice for determining the custodial unit for collection content need and outlines responsibilities for monitoring risks of obsolescence in the hardware and architecture and the Library''s digital collections storage systems.

All digital content acquired for the Library of Congress' permanent collections is assigned to a custodial unit, which is responsible for its care and management. Unlike analog materials within general and special collections, the custody of digital collections does not depend on their position on a shelf or within a reading room. Instead, custody of digital content is controlled through policy and permissions in systems that enable authorized staff of custodial divisions to perform actions on digital content in the permanent collection. The Library’s digital storage and management systems are maintained and monitored by the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).

Determination of custodianship for digital content in the collection

The Digital Collections Management Compendium (DCMC) articulates a framework by which responsibility for digital collections content is distributed. Any digital content acquired for the Library's permanent collections that is not explicitly identified as being under the custodial care of a particular unit is under the responsibility of the Digital Collections Management and Services (DCMS) division.

To best support responsible custody, units limit the number of staff with authorized accounts for the inventory systems they use. System owners monitor current user accounts and staff with access permissions as well as monitor role-based permissions for these systems.

Principles for determining custody of collections are established in keeping with existing Library of Congress Regulations and should thus be considered to follow that authority. They follow Library of Congress Regulations on “Custody of Materials.”

Selection of staff to perform digital content management actions

The Chief or Director of each unit of the Library that has custodial responsibilities for digital collections in its care must determine, through assignment or delegation, which staff in their unit are authorized digital content managers. Digital content managers perform collection care actions on content in their unit’s custody.

Responsibilities of staff acting as Digital Content Managers

All staff acting as digital content managers strive to follow and implement provisions for digital content management as described by the Digital Collections Management Compendium. In cases where no guidance exists, staff should identify appropriate digital content management procedures in consultation with the DCMS.

Differentiation between digital content management and IT responsibilities

OCIO has no custodial responsibilities for digital collections. Instead, OCIO is responsible for providing essential infrastructure, including inventory management and digital storage, which meet the IT business needs necessary to support custodial responsibilities. In order to manage and maintain IT infrastructure necessary to support content in the digital collections, staff in OCIO often require permissions in systems to act on digital content in the collection. However, actions on that content should be coordinated and authorized by the units which have custodial responsibilities for content.  

Monitor Digital Storage Systems for Risk

In order to manage risks to digital content in the Library's collections, the Library monitors the status of its storage media and plans for migration to new media and platforms. This currently happens through annual storage and procurement planning processes, as well as events like the annual Storage Meeting that the Library hosts.

OCIO will monitor systems and media for obsolescence, and DCMS will consult with OCIO regarding long-term planning and obsolescence questions.

DCMS works with digital content managers and custodial units to monitor issues affecting file formats and software for digital preservation planning, in accordance with the Library's approach to the Maintenance of Original Formats for digital collection items.