General Information Sources

Humanities Abstracts (with Full Text)

Alternative Titles
Humanities Full Text
Humanities Index
Wilson Humanities Index

Indexes and abstracts articles from almost 700 humanities publications. Covers periodicals in archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, journalism, linguistics, music, performing arts, philosophy, religion, world history, and world literature. Abstracts feature articles, book reviews, interviews, obituaries, bibliographies, original works of fiction (including dramas and poems), and reviews of plays and television and radio programs. Excludes editorials, letters to the editor, news, ephemeral announcements, cartoons, and advertising. Each record contains a bibliographic citation for an article, book review, or other item in a journal. Full text is included for many articles.

Article Index
1984 - (index & abstracts); 1994 - (selected full text)
Stable URL
Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)

ARTbibliographies Modern

Alternative Titles
Art Bibliographies Modern

Abstracts of articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs & reviews, and dissertations covering artists & movements from the late 19th century to all aspects of modern & contemporary art, including photography from its invention in 1839 to the present.

Article Index
late 1960s -
Stable URL
Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)

Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary

Alternative Titles
Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary (GVRL)
Gale Virtual Reference Library

Provides definitions of a wide variety of acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations and similar contractions, translating them into their full names or meanings. Terms from subject areas such as associations, education, the Internet, medicine and others are included. 4 v.

43rd edition 2010
Stable URL
Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)

International Index to Black Periodicals Full Text

Alternative Titles
International Index to Black Periodicals Full Text (Chadwyck-Healey)
Marshall Index

Provides indexing for 127 currently published scholarly and popular periodicals in Black studies, with links to full text for over 40 of them. The Marshall Index is a guide to black periodicals, 1940-1946.

Article Index
1902 - 1990, 1998 - Varies by title.
Stable URL
Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)Authorized UM users (+ guests in UM Libraries)

Internal Resources

Resources created by the Digital Preservation Office

"Preserving Personal Digital Files" by Sarah Wingo. This document gives an overview of general digital preservation applied to your personal files; ways to preserve specific files such as text, images, audio, video, email, and websites; and methods of backing up your digital life.
"How To Preserve Your Own Digital Materials" and "Resources for Information About Preserving Your Digital Materials". This document will guide you in keeping your digital materials safe, so that you and your family can look at them in the future. It also provides links to a number of resources that will help you learn more about preserving your personal digital materials, digitizing your LP records or photographs, or backing up your files on the Internet.

"A Quick Guide to Digital Video Files". This short document is intended to provide information on the basics of digital video, such as resolution, bit rate, file formats, and metadata.

"Best Practices for Producing Quality Digital Audio Files" and "Best Practices for Producing Quality Digital Video Files." These documents outline recommendations for creating high-quality digital audio and video files that conform to contemporary preservation standards. Although intended for users depositing materials into Deep Blue, UM's institutional repository, the information is useful for anyone working with digital audio or video.

Page maintained by Lance Stuchell
Last modified: 05/19/2014

External Resources

A Beginner’s Bibliography to Digital Preservation Resources Available on the Web

Introductory Pieces:
McGovern, Nancy, “A Digital Decade: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going in Digital Preservation?”: In this article, McGovern focuses on three components of digital preservation, organization, technology and resources and gives an overview of how they have evolved in the ten year period from 1996 (when the “Preserving Digital Information” report came out) to 2007 (when this article was published).

Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, “Preserving Digital Information”: This is one of the very first and most comprehensive reports on Digital Preservation. It is a bit old, especially in digital terms (1996), but it outlines very clearly and succinctly some of the key problems associated with digital preservation and why digital preservation is important.

Shaw, Jonathan, “Digital Preservation: An Unresolved Problem”: Article (May 2010) from Harvard Magazine, Shaw gives a general overview of digital preservation. It is interesting to compare it with the “Preserving Digital Information” report from 1996 listed above to see that a good deal of the concerns from early on are still valid.

Standards & Other Issues:
Ayre, Catherine & Muir, Adrienne, “The Right to Preserve: The Rights Issues of Digital Preservation”: Lays out some of copyright issues that may come with using some of the digital preservation strategies described in the glossary.

Caplan, Priscilla, “Understanding PREMIS”: This paper gives a great introduction to the PREMIS data dictionary for preservation metadata. For those who just want a quick review of what PREMIS is and how it is used, Section 1 provides a clear and easy to understand overview.

Cover Pages Technology Reports, “Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standards (METS)”: Pulls from a number of different sources to give a good idea of what METS is and what sort of information is included in METS.

Granger, Stewart, “Emulation as a Digital Preservation Strategy”: This article succinctly discusses two other opposing articles that argue the merits and downsides of migration and emulation.

Lavoie, Brian, “The Open Archival Information System: An Introductory Guide”: Gives the history and also an overview of what being an OAIS compliant archive entails. It also gives examples of OAIS compliant archive to illustrate the OAIS concept.

Lacinak, Chris, "A Primer on Codecs for Moving Image and Sound Archives": The purpose of this paper is to clarify what a codec is, how it is used and what that means to archives.

Other glossaries:
California Digital Library: Very complete glossary of digital preservation related terms.

Digital Preservation Coalition, “Digital Preservation Jargon Buster": Gives the meaning of some commonly used acronyms and terms in digital preservation.


Page maintained by Lance Stuchell
Last modified: 03/14/2013

Digital Preservation Glossary

The Basics:

Metadata: Latin term meaning “information about information.” In the digital realm, metadata is data that describes key information about the digital objects (image files, text files, digital audio/video) and, when appropriate, the original objects they represent. There are different kinds of ‘metadata’ including bibliographic or descriptive metadata, technical metadata, administrative metadata and structural metadata.[1]


Descriptive/Bibliographic Metadata: Information used to search and locate an object such as title, author, subjects, keywords, and publisher.


Technical Metadata: Information about aspects of the object often closely related either to its file format or the original software used to create the file. This may include things like the scanning equipment used to create a digital object and the settings used to create/modify it.



Administrative Metadata: Information needed to help manage the digital object. Often included in administrative metadata is copyright and preservation information.


Structural Metadata: Information on how the digital object is organized. This may include the page or chapter order of a book, its table of contents or indexes. Structural metadata is often used by software programs.


Digital preservation: The maintenance and management of digital objects, including both those that are born digital and were converted to digital format from analog, so that they can be accessed and used by future users.


Digital object: A representation of some piece of information in digital form. This can include many types of information, including word processing files, images, and digital audio files.


Migration: One of the strategies used in digital preservation. Migration involves changing the format of a file so it is able to be rendered with current hardware or software. This may cause changes in the ‘look or feel’ of a file.


Emulation: One of the strategies used in digital preservation. Emulation uses programs that imitate the original (obsolete or unavailable) hardware or software in order to render the original digital object.


Born Digital: A digital object that has never had an analog form. They differ from documents, movies and photographs that may have been scanned or converted to a digital format.


Digital Provenance: Information on the origin of a digital object and also on any changes that may have occurred over the course of its life cycle.


Format/Technology Obsolescence: Occurs when a piece of software or hardware is no longer in wide use or available at all. This causes it to be difficult or impossible to use any files that depend on this software or hardware.



Media deterioration/degradation: The breakdown of an analog object that holds digital objects potentially causing the objects on the media to no longer be retrievable.


Digital Repository: The organization or department responsible for the intake and maintenance of digital objects.


Dark Archive: An archive that does not grant public access and only preserves the information it contains. This can refer to a digital archive or repository as well as brick & mortar archive.


Refreshment: Copying a digital object from one media format, such as a CD, to another, such as a hard drive.


Render: “To make a Digital Object perceptible to a user.”[2] This is done through use of a software program and is often used when talking about the emulation of a digital object.


Standards Associated with Digital Preservation:

METS: Stands for Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard. A framework for describing certain pieces of essential information (metadata) about a digital object.


XML: Stands for Extensible Markup Language.One of the most common ways used to represent metadata.[3]


PREMIS: Stands for Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies. It is now in its second iteration. PREMIS metadata is contained within larger metadata schemas such as METS. PREMIS metadata structures and describes what sort of preservation has been done to a digital object. This might include taking the object into a new archive or changing the format of an object.


OAIS: OAIS is an acronym that stands for Open Archival Information System. It is an archival framework developed by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). The OAIS framework consists of an organization of people and systems who have accepted the responsibility to preserve information and make it available for a certain group of people. It does not offer a definitive guideline for how a digital repository should act or what it should do but instead gives the digital preservation community a common language and outlook for talking about digital preservation.


Ingest: One of the functions listed in the framework for OAIS. It involves taking an object (or objects) into a digital repository.


SIP: Submission Information Package. This is what a content provider deposits into a digital repository. Included within a SIP is not only the digital object(s) but also any other information that helps to describe and understand the object(s).


AIP: Archival Information Package. This is what is stored within a digital repository. Included within an AIP is not only the digital object (s) but also any other information that helps to describe and understand the object(s). An AIP may have undergone transformation from ingest as a SIP in order to conform to the standards of the digital repository. This may include change of format or the addition of metadata.

DIP: Dissemination Information Package. This is what is given to an end user for access purposes. Included within a DIP is not only the digital object(s) but also any other information that helps to describe and understand the object(s). The creation of a DIP from an AIP may involve some transformation of the object to make it suitable for end-users.

[1] Priscilla Caplan, Metadata fundamentals for Librarians, 3.

[2] PREMIS Data Dictionary 2.0, pg 214

Page maintained by Lance Stuchell
Last modified: 03/14/2013

What is Digital Preservation?

Introduction to the Problem

Today, we have access to information and data that 15 years ago would have scarcely seemed possible. It seems that almost everything is being created and used in the digital realm. Documents such as your history report, the spreadsheet that shows last year’s travel budget and more were likely all generated on your computer. However, though we use computers for so many things, we often don’t give much thought about preserving what we do generate until it is too late. Most people can remember at least one horror story of lost data, whether it happened to them or to a friend; the research paper that was lost when the computer crashed or the scattered and disorganized family photos that were only saved to one hard drive – that eventually crashed! This list of lost digital data illustrates the potential fragility of digital information. There are several reasons why digital objects are so fragile.

Fragility of Digital Objects

One reason that digital information is fragile is that software programs and other technologies can be very quickly superseded by newer ones and fall out of use. This phenomenon is called technological obsolescence. Once newer technologies become accepted as the norm, it can be difficult to use any digital object that exists in an older format. Although there is currently some backwards capability available for popular programs – for example, Open Office is able to open a Microsoft Office 2003 doc – this is not necessarily the case for less widely used programs and proprietary formats from small companies. Obsolescence can also occur with the media that digital information is stored on. It is quite difficult now to find a computer with a 3 ½” floppy drive, much less one for 5 ¼” floppies. These obsolete media or formats may contain unique information that may be very difficult or impossible to recover.

Another problem associated with digital preservation is media degradation. The very media that digital information is stored on was not always made to last, and can quickly degrade. This media can include magnetic tapes, floppy discs, optical discs and more. Take, for example, a movie on DVD. More likely than not, you have experienced a crucial scene in a movie being ruined because of scratches on a DVD you were watching. This is a case of media degradation – the information that was on the DVD no longer exists because the media that it was on has itself degraded. Now imagine this has happened with not simply a commercially available CD or DVD, but a unique item that contained thousands of digitized images. Clearly there are many risks associated with media degradation, especially when you consider how much information that has been burned onto CDs and DVDs to serve as a backup.

What is Digital Preservation?

So how do we deal with the problems mentioned above? One way we can do this is through active Digital Preservation. Digital Preservation is the management and maintenance of digital objects (the files, or groups of files, that contain information in digital form) so they can be accessed and used by future users. It is important to start thinking about digital preservation early in the life cycle of a digital object because while traditional print objects may last relatively unharmed for decades untouched, this is not the case with digital objects, which have significantly shorter life spans. Therefore, by thinking about preserving the digital object early on, even when it is created, we save a great deal of time and stress later on when trying to retrieve the information an object holds before it is too late. In this sense, digital preservation, and especially early digital preservation, is important not only for personal data management but also large repositories that manage many objects. Though personal horror stories of lost data seem to be scattered and only happen from time to time, for larger repositories that contain many hundreds and thousands of digital objects, lost data can be a much bigger problem. Digital Preservation, after all, is frequently focused on long term use, which can be quite difficult to achieve considering how fragile digital objects can be. There are several strategies used to help preserve digital objects, such as emulation, migration and data redundancy.

Digital Preservation Strategies

One of the best ways to help preserve digital objects is by data redundancy. This is, simply put, making sure there are many copies of important files. If there are one or more copies of an important file available, it mitigates the disaster of the computer crashing or one disc being lost. However, though this may be helpful in the short term, it may not prove to be helpful in the long term, as file formats and media can change rapidly over a short period of time. In this case, two more digital preservation strategies can be helpful in preserving digital objects, emulation and migration.

Emulation involves using a program that imitates the original, obsolete hardware or software to render a digital object. In emulation, the original bit stream (the information that comprises the file) is saved and used. In contrast, in migration, the original bit stream is changed over to a new, current file format. Both strategies allow for the use of digital objects that may require outdated software or hardware, but in slightly different ways. When choosing a strategy, it is important to consider how the digital objects are to be used as well as the significant properties of that object. For example, is it a word document where you only need to read the information contained in it? In this case, migration which would eliminate some of the formatting might be ok. But what about a computer game where migrating data instead of emulating it would cause significant changes to the way the game was played? Although there are merits to both strategies, these types of questions are good to ask before choosing one.  A more in-depth comparison of these two strategies can be seen below.

Emulation Migration
  • Can retain ‘look and feel’ of original digital object
  • Focus is on recreating the experience, not just accessing the content
  • Preserve and use original digital object.
  • Emulator will also have to be preserved + will need to update periodically
  • Without original hardware/software, you can’t be sure you’re retaining the exact look & feel
  • Does not always result in a perfect presentation of original digital object
  • Can retain ‘look and feel’ of original digital object, depending on migration strategy as well as the format being migrated to
  • May lose original formatting, causing the object to not look quite the same as it did
  • Focus is on making the content available
  • May or may not save original digital object for backup/future migration purposes. File made in migration is a new copy.

One last way to help preserve digital objects is to make sure that as much information as possible is gathered when they are created. This information is called metadata and can include basic descriptive information about the file as well as information about the file format of the object. The metadata collected about an object helps to place items in context, as well as give specific information. This is essential for making sure that digital objects are authentic. Authenticity is that the file hasn’t been added to or modified in any way. This means that it is the digital object created by the producer and the content of the digital object was not modified once it was placed in the digital repository. This is especially important for digital files that can be easily changed in a way that may not be easily apparent as opposed to print media. In addition, metadata can also help to track what was done to preserve the object throughout its life cycle, such as migrating an object from one format to another.  This metadata can be linked to the digital object or encapsulated with the digital object itself. Encapsulating the metadata with the object, for example placing the metadata with the object in the same folder in a zip file, ensures that the information stays with the file no matter where it goes. Linking the metadata and storing the metadata somewhere else (not with the file), ensures that the information about the file can be recovered even if the object itself was lost.

Page maintained by Lance Stuchell
Last modified: 03/14/2013

MLibrary Digital Preservation Office

The Digital Preservation Office, headed by Lance Stuchell, strives to ensure the near- and long-term use and viability of the University Library's digital collections by staying abreast of the latest standards, developments, trends, and technologies in the digital preservation community. The Office consults with digital content and collections managers to keep the Library's digital assets useful, contemporary, and secure for patrons now and in the future.

We are also available for consultations to the University of Michigan campus community. Contact us at for an appointment to discuss your needs.


The Digital Preservation Office has compiled general resources relating to the preservation of digital collections in both professional and home contexts. Please see:

Page maintained by Lance Stuchell
Last modified: 03/15/2013


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