Disaster Preparedness for Digital Content

Version 1.1 - date last updated: 2 March 2016


These model documents assist repositories in developing and maintaining that support and enable disaster planning and response, a core responsibility of TDR. 


Organizations need to explicitly extend disaster preparedness to include digital content. There are extensive resources and examples available for disaster planning for physical collections, but not as many yet for digital collections.  The objective is not to produce a single document that is identified as a disaster plan, but to develop a set  of documents that cumulatively provide comprehenisve documentation and are updated to reflect current practice.


These are model documents to assist organizations in producing these components of disaster preparedeness documentation:

Each model document identifies the sections that should be included in the document with descriptions of the sections and examples. 

Digital preservation staff are often brought into or assigned responsibiity for the development or extension of a disaster preparedness program top include digital content. OAIS and other digital preservation standards cite the need for disaster planning and response as part of a sustainable digital preservation program. It is beneficial and obligatory that digital preservation staff participate in disaster preparedness. Developing the roles and responsibilities document will help the repository to identify the range of responsibilities that need to be engaged in disaster planning to git the needs and requirements of the respoitory and its collections. 

Five Stages Context for Disaster preparedness

  1. Acknowledge: aware that extending your disaster planning to include digital content is essential
  2. Act: establish a project to address disaster planning for your digital content 
  3. Consolidate: develop a set of disaster planning documentation to demonstrate preparedness
  4. Institutionalize: routinely update and periodically test disaster preparedness using "fire drills"
  5. Externalize: share disaster preparedness documenation and experience with community 


About the disaster preparedness model documents:

  • since the start of the program in 2003, the DPM workshop highlighted the need for disaster preparedness for digital content as part of a comprehensive digital preservation program
  • using the model document approach we developed for the DPM workshops to create examples for disaster preparedness, Nancy McGovern and Lance Stuchell developed a set of model documents and used the models to guide the development of disater preparedness documentation while at ICPSR (2008-2010)
  • Nancy McGovern is now updating the model documents and adapting them for use at MIT Libraries and those examples to be shared here when ready (2016)