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Digital preservation

Created by Anne Kenney and Nancy McGovern for the Digital Preservation Management Workshops in 2003-2006, this stool represents the three aspects of a successful and sustainable digital preservation programme:

  1. Technology
  2. Organization
  3. Resources

What the model demonstrates, is that without considering and maintaining each of these components (or "legs"), a digital preservation programme will ultimately collapse. These three components need to be considered together in order to sustain digital preservation activity. 

It is important that a programme does not consider technology as the only solution and that a balance is struck between the technology, the people, the funding and the organizational policies.

Three-legged Stool of Digital Preservation


The technology leg represents the necessary hardware, software and secure environments required to sustain a digital preservation programme. The technology leg also acknowledges changing technology and is prepared to respond accordingly. 

The areas the technology leg covers in digital preservation includes:

  • Storage and back-up
  • repository and preservation systems
  • tools
  • security measures


The organization leg of the stool looks at the elements required to address the organizational needs and practices of a digital preservation programme. This leg not only maps the parameters of a programme, but helps drive the organizational change required for a successful digital preservation programme.

The organizational components include:

  • policy and strategy
  • procedures and workflows
  • documentation
  • staffing
  • risk registers & benefits models


The resources leg looks at the time, money and people requirements of a digital preservation programme. These are the resources required create and maintain a sustainable programme.

The resources required include:

  • business planning
  • cost modelling
  • ongoing and sustainable funding
  • staff skills
  • an organizational commitment to sustainability

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