Academic Heritage Foundation presents guide to preserving digitally born academic heritage

12 June 2023

On Thursday 25 May, SAE (Stichting Academisch Erfgoed) presented the report ‘Dicht het zwarte gat!’ (translation: Close the black hole) to raise awareness of academic heritage that is digital in origin and in reality not under legal archiving obligations. DANS’ Deputy Director Ingrid Dillo contributed to this report and spoke at the symposium about the opportunities offered by (inter)national scientific data infrastructures to preserve digitally born academic heritage and keep it accessible.

The report is an appeal to the boards of academic institutions to give serious consideration to the heritage value of the digital information produced within their institutions. Digital born heritage is endangered heritage. This message has been sent for decades in policy papers and reports, and yet there is still no policy framework on the basis of which this problem can be addressed in practice. The clock is ticking and it is becoming increasingly urgent to take action on academic heritage that is digital in origin and therefore has no physical counterpart. Without policies for selection and preservation, ‘black holes’ are going to appear in our collective memory that cannot be reconstructed unless action is taken. 

Publishing this guide (only available in Dutch) is a first step to better identify this issue and to put the urgency for developing policy on the agenda of academic institutions. The guide is aimed at governors, policy-makers and managers of academic institutions and provides directions for solutions in addition to an analysis of the problem. The actual solution will have to be determined per institution, but preferably in cooperation with other institutions, as expressed in the conclusions and recommendations of this guide.

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