H-Net: Preserving and Improving Access to Specialized Electronic Mailing List Archives
H-Net Digital Preservation Policies and Procedures
Archival Copies of H-Net
As with other active electronic record collections, the H-Net e-mail list is a "living" archive--that is, the system maintains and provides access to an archive of past records even as new records continue to be created. MATRIX stores on its servers and continually backs up the H-Net e-mail list archive along with the rest of its server-based files and applications. (See Information Security for Digital Assets at MATRIX.)
MATRIX also creates and maintains archival copies of the H-Net e-mail list data separate from its other files and applications. On an annual basis, MATRIX copies the following onto archival-quality LTO tapes using GNU Tar archiving software:
- H-Net notebook files containing messages posted during the previous calendar year
- Associated metadata, including the log browse cache and fixity database
- A text file containing provenance information for the archival copy
- Browse and search software developed by H-Net to provide web access to the message postings
- Supporting documentation for the browse and search software
A hardcopy insert that explains how the tape was created is included with it. As an example, refer to H-Net Archive, 1989-2008 Tape Insert. An insert containing the provenance metadata in the text file referenced above is also included with each tape. The provenance metadata consists of information about when, where, and on what type of media the archival copy was made. As media refreshment and other actions take place in the future, provenance metadata related to those actions will be added.
Note that the first archival tape created contains all messages posted from 1989-2008, as H-Net began to formally implement preservation policies in the 2008-2009 time period. Subsequent archival tapes will be created annually, in early January of a given year, and contain only messages and related files posted during that past calendar year as well as the software and documentation. For example, archival tapes for 2009 will be created in January of 2010.
One copy of these tapes will be kept at an offsite storage center in Lansing where MATRIX will be storing backup tapes and other removable media as part of an agreement with the Michigan State University Archives. A second copy is kept in a secure location on the MATRIX premises.
Media refreshment for the tapes is scheduled for every five years. The archival tapes will be sampled annually to ensure readability. MATRIX keeps a wiki-based log, similar to that established for the backup tapes, containing descriptive and provenance metadata for each archival tape and any actions taken on them.
Last Revised July 2009