New York University has received a grant of $527,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

New York University has received a grant of $527,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a project to help ensure the preservation of complex new forms of digital scholarship. In the collaborative project, “Enhancing Services to Preserve New Forms of Scholarship,” participating preservation service organizations will test the limits of their capabilities today, using their existing tools or drawing on partnerships to preserve a series of increasingly complex works from participating scholarly publishers. The ultimate goal is a clearly defined range of currently preservable technologies, as well as a set of guidelines and best practices for the publishing field.

The guidelines are needed, says David Millman, head of Digital Library Technology Services and assistant dean at NYU Libraries, because “the technology to create complex scholarly works has become more sophisticated than the means of preserving them. As a result, authors and publishers are creating complex digital products unaware that, with each enhancement, they put preservability at ever greater risk. We want to identify which types of content and which workflows are most likely to result in successful preservation and what new approaches might be needed, and use that knowledge to create an environment in which digital scholarship has the best chance of long-term survival.”

With NYU as lead, project partners NYU Press, Michigan Publishing, the University of Minnesota Press, Stanford University Press, and Vega Academic Publishing at Wayne State University will transfer content of varying complexity and formats to project partners CLOCKSS and Portico, two major preservation services. These organizations will analyze the content, assess what is the most appropriate preservation approach, and provide solutions that will make these new forms of content preservable. At the same time, NYU will work with the libraries of the University of Michigan and Duke University to explore questions arising from the nexus of scholarly communications organizations, intellectual property agreements, and preservation.

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has a long history of fostering projects that leverage digital technology to make scholarship more broadly accessible to all, including future generations,” says H. Austin Booth, Dean of the NYU Division of Libraries. “Many of our most ambitious and far-reaching collaborative projects have been supported by the Foundation, and we are excited to once again bring together an accomplished and innovative team to move digital preservation forward.”

At the end of the 18-month grant period, Millman says, the parameters and limits of today’s preservation capabilities will be defined and disseminated. He adds, “We need to ensure that our preservation ability becomes and remains equal to our publishing expertise. The longevity of scholarship depends on it.” 

The NYU Division of Libraries comprises five libraries in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and one each in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, houses more than four million volumes and received 2.5 million visits last year. The Libraries’ online catalog provides access to a world of content, such as millions of book volumes, e-books, serial titles, oral histories, and documents from more than 43,000 linear feet of archives. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit http://library.nyu.edu