Stepping Stones: Project Background
The Statewide & Regional Stepping Stones to the National Digital Platform project originated from GVSU Libraries and their strategic work to explore more open-source and collaborative solutions to solving the institutional challenges of affordable digital preservation. As early as 2015, GVSU Libraries recognized the rising costs and the diminished support service of various commercial providers and began revisiting the feasibility for a new balance of both in-house and outsourced solutions.
GVSU Libraries took stock of the remarkable degree of collaboration within the state of Michigan across our libraries, archives, museums, and other preserving institutions. This evidenced itself through communities like the award-winning and nationally-recognized Mid Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP). Michigan's state Library of Michigan has also been highly-engaged and instrumental in fostering developments at community levels, most recently and notably, through investments in the Michigan Memories Project (michmemories.org). Several of our state professional associations, including the Michigan Archival Association (MAA), the Michigan Museums Association (MMA), and the Michigan Academic Library Association (MiALA), routinely partner with one another to co-host conferences and workshops. We have an innovative DPLA Service Hub at the University of Michigan that has partnered together with Wayne State University to streamline the harvesting of metadata from contributing institutions via the work of the Combine Project. We also have the remarkable resources and support of the Michigan Council of Library Directors (COLD) and the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS).
Given all these unique resources and collaborations, GVSU Libraries proposed a coordinated investigation into the feasibility for the state to construct an institutionally-hosted solution or set of solutions for digital preservation, as an alternative to the increasingly cost-prohibitive commercial solutions being marketed to institutions. In other words, is it possible for libraries, archives, museums, and other preserving institutions in the state/region to pool their resources and make digital preservation more affordable, more achievable, more sustainable, and more trustworthy for all?
The response of representatives from all of the major groups and institutions mentioned above was a resounding "Let's Give It A Shot!"
With that, GVSU Libraries, with support from all of the above, along with the Digital Library Federation (DLF) and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), proposed a year-long study to the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the National Leadership Grant and National Digital Platform programs. With overwhelmingly positive reviews we were successfully awarded and began our work in earnest in December 2018!