New Stanford Digital Repository tool helps SUP preserve and now also serve durable media in its digital publications.
When it comes to digital web-based content, longevity can
really only be accomplished if something is designed from the start to endure. But
it’s difficult to predict what features, formats, and methods will last when they
are constantly evolving. As a result, balancing innovation with durability is
perhaps the most consistent challenge, from the production perspective, of
digital publishing. But the process improves with every work that comes through
our pipeline, and we’ve just leveled up when it comes to one piece of that
process in particular: embedded media.
While for the most part, it’s best to keep all a publication’s
dependencies local in relation to the project, when those dependencies present
a strain to the storage capacity of a server, an external media repository can not
only lighten the load on the publication server but also bridge the gap between
publication and preservation. For the first time in our ever-evolving digital
publication program, a project’s media assets are being accessioned and
deposited into the Stanford Digital Repository
before publication so they can be assigned persistent
URLs (PURLS) which can then be source-linked into the publication itself.
This seemingly obvious solution has only recently become feasible because of a new tool, a pre-assembly application
for Stanford Digital Repository and developed by Stanford Libraries, allows select
institutional users (including me!) to self-manage what would otherwise be a
very time-consuming and resource-heavy workflow. Having been trained on the app
and granted the necessary credentials for its use in the SDR environment, as
SUP’s digital production associate I can now take all the images, audio, and
video an author provides for a publication and pipe them into the repository
early in the production process. Previously, the chain of specialists in the
library necessary to complete this process meant it could take several
months or even over a year to get content into place. This meant repository
storage could only function as a post-publication preservation method and not
as a source of content for the publication itself.
The first publication to benefit from this improved configuration
is now in production. In terms of format, the project uses the Scalar platform and
is further comprised of nearly 144,000 words (the equivalent of more than 600
manuscript pages of text), 146 images and video, and over a thousand files that
make up multiple 3D environment and structural models. While the live publication
will be hosted by SUP, the downloadable 3D model files and the media that is
embedded within the publication will be pulled from the SDR, where it will also
be preserved longterm as the publication’s archived-components collection. This
is a significant step toward merging publication and preservation workflows, a merging
which itself forwards the sustainability of SUP’s digital publishing program.
Though the new approach adds steps to the production
process, they are steps that can run concurrently with other production
processes. Furthermore, completing the deposit before publication means that post-publication
preservation work is reduced. Thanks to the new pre-assembly tool, we are able
to run the accessioning and deposit process out of the Press rather than impose
the previous, more drawn-out process on Stanford’s Digital Library Systems and
Services department. Though the learning curve has been steep, it has ensured that
I and those who have been graciously assisting me along the way have generated thorough
documentation and reusable templates for the application and its component
processes. The project in discussion will be released in early 2020, and though
it will seem to technically act in many ways like other Scalar-based projects
we’ve published, it’s these little but complex improvements happening behind
the scenes that make a huge difference in a publication’s longevity.
Jasmine Mulliken is Production and Preservation Manager, Digital Projects, at Stanford University Press. She coordinates the production and preservation workflow of born-digital projects, including recommending platforms and coding standards to authors, consulting with authors on projects’ technical attributes, and evaluating best practices for archiving and preservation.