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Digital Preservation Program

To fulfil the World Bank Group (WBG) Archives’ mission to maintain the integrity of WBG records and provide secure storage for inactive records, digital preservation is a necessary step in the life cycle of digital WBG records with enduring value.  This requires a sustainable approach to digital preservation that is based on industry best practices.  

The WBG Archives’ Digital Preservation Program is dedicated to ensuring the long-term preservation of, and access to, authentic digital records that have enduring value and provide documentary evidence of the World Bank Group’s key functions.  

Why do we need a Digital Preservation Program?

The same rules we have long applied to the management and preservation of records in analog form also apply to digital records. But while both digital records and analog records document the evidence of World Bank Group activities, digital records have unique characteristics that necessitate proactive efforts to protect them.

Analog records (those with a physical manifestation, rather than only existing within a computer) can generally be safely stored by record creators for 20+ years. They also consist of predictable formats, including paper documents in folders, maps, photographic prints and negatives, and reels of film.

Digital records (those which exist as 1s and 0s in a bit stream on computer-readable storage) are created in an exceedingly diverse range of formats, including documents, structured data, audio/video, and data stored within applications. The rapid rate of technology change shortens the window for effective capture of these records.   

Digital preservation presents several unique challenges, all of which must be addressed to ensure access to the digital records of the WBG into the future. An effective digital preservation program must: ensure multiple authoritative copies of permanent digital records are in archival custody and that all activities performed on the records are documented; store records with appropriate metadata and contextual information to guarantee that we can find and understand the records; and enable long-term access to digital records regardless of their format, originating system, or technology obsolescence.

What is the Digital Vault?

The Digital Vault is the centrepiece of the WBG Archives’ Digital Preservation Program. A combination of tools and digital storage management, it enables the WBG Archives to protect, know, monitor, and repair the permanent digital records of the World Bank Group. By guaranteeing the reliability, integrity, and authenticity of digital records, the Digital Vault serves to protect the Archives’ key goals of transparency and access to information.

The Digital Vault is necessary to ensure access to all high value digital records throughout the life of the institution and beyond -- regardless of their format or system of origin.

This diagram shows the activities that the Digital Vault supports related to records preservation and access:

The World Bank

The Digital Vault is much more than just file storage and metadata. It provides a multi-function dashboard to facilitate and coordinate preservation activities that must be performed for all stages of digital preservation. Many activities will be performed in large batches across multiple collections and some may be performed at regular intervals. These activities must be managed centrally across multiple diverse and rapidly growing digital collections.