Seven European countries are launching 4C (the Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation) to help public and private European organisations invest more effectively in digital curation and preservation, sustaining the long-term value of all types of digital information.
Curation ensures digital objects remain understandable, accessible, useable and safe over time. 4C will provide practical guidance to help organisations estimate the cost of digital curation work and demonstrate the long and short term benefits.
Alex Thirifays, National Archives of Denmark, explains: "As well as bringing together a fragmented research landscape, the project will create an online ‘curation costs exchange' which will help users to model their costs and in this way predict more accurately the sorts of costs and benefits that are likely to result from the positive decision to preserve. This will be useful for managers in major archives and data centres and we hope it will support preservation planning functions. These tools will be particularly useful for policy-makers concerned about long-term access to data. In addition we will publish a roadmap for future work in modelling costs which will help to clarify the areas which need more support."
Neil Grindley, project co-ordinator from Jisc in the UK, explains: "It can be difficult to make a convincing case for investment in digital curation for two reasons. Firstly the costs of curation are currently hard to predict and secondly the short term benefits are hard to define because curation implicitly addresses long-term challenges." 4C will address both concerns and provide practical guidance that will help practitioners persuade executives to invest in new services.
4C is described as ‘open and social' and rather than waiting for perfect and polished results, they will be blogging and sharing findings as they go. 4C hope that this will encourage debate and increase the likelihood that their findings and guidance are useful.
Sabine Schrimpf of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Germany, says: "We are looking to engage with many different kinds of organisations and to set up partnerships and have discussions with everyone who would like to get involved in the development of these tools. We'll be inviting people to workshops and focus groups during the next two years, and we'll be organising a conference to share our results at the end of the process."
The partners involved are: Danish National Archives (Denmark), DANS - Data Archiving and Network Service (Netherlands), Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (Germany), Digital Curation Centre (UK), Digital Preservation Coalition (UK), Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (UK), Institute for Information Systems and Computing Research (Portugal), Jisc (UK), Keep Solutions (Portugal), National Library of (Estonia), Royal Library of Denmark (Denmark), Secure Business (Austria), UK Data Archive (UK).