The Media Vault Program (MVP) is an interdisciplinary, community-based program that promotes archival digital scholarly workflows, enables digital information conservation, provides self-service management of digital collections, and assures a digital environment that supports research, teaching and public service.
The primary need the MVP serves is the lack of campus-wide resources available to address our growing reliance on digital media for research, teaching and public service
Community: The program has established a community-of-practice for the campus, which has provided others within our institution to define and share their needs, strategies, methods, priorities, solutions, and content.
Governance: A representative steering committee is assembled to prioritize the areas of focus and make key decisions on all areas of the program including products and services, research projects, partnerships, fundraising and the performance of delivered services.
Communications: A key function is to share the content of the community, as well as provide updates on the services and projects within the program via presentations, website, and project wiki.
Research and Development: In collaboration with MVP participants, partners and external groups, the MVP conducts research (e.g. literature reviews), as well as attends and participates in a variety of presentations and research projects consistent with the goals of the community, steering committees, and program.
As we observed during the MV proof-of concept phase (2007-2008), departments have resorted to implementing their own unique solutions but are faced with significant issues such as:
• Absent or inadequate business resumption plans for faculty and campus digital collections. This presents a significant risk to campus research and operations, and digital collections across the campus are in danger.
• Overlapping and siloed departmental investments in infrastructure that still leave the content at risk.
• Limited ability to make digital collections more widely accessible to researchers, faculty and the public. This is of great concern within and across disciplines, since the potential value of the collections cannot be realized.
• Lack of consistent and/or structured metadata to describe the collections, which raise the value of the content through accessibility.
• High cost of curation and preservation activities that make digital preservation an even more compelling avenue and critical issue.
• Lack of knowledge and skills within campus departments (e. g lack of technical skills necessary to safely store and share content over the web, lack of knowledge of best practices and workflows to support the management or archiving of digital collections, and not knowing where to go to get help)
• A number of niche providers have been identified within our campus, UC system and the private sector. However, a cohesive and integrated end-to-end solution is not generally available; risks and gaps not apparent; directions and strategies are unavailable at an institutional level.
As we step back with a look towards the future, it is evident the campus needs to take action on opportunities as described below:
• We now live in the digital age. It is the expectation of our faculty, students, researchers and staff that robust digital archival and data stewardship services are widely available as a matter-of-course to support 21st century scholarship, teaching and research. The lack of resources in this area has been described as a competitive disadvantage for research and for the hiring and retaining faculty, researchers and students. Conversely, these resources will put our campus on equal footing with the many institutions that have adopted digital preservation programs to their core business practices. How do we turn a competitive disadvantage into a competitive advantage?
• Archival and data stewardship services must be available, robust, and easy to implement and integrate with 21st century scholarship, teaching and research. Needed services include digital object management, storage, backup, and curatorial/preservation activities throughout digital asset production workflows (from offline in-the-field capture to academic and public sharing).
• There is a strong need to implement best practices in the highly complex domain of digital object and archival workflow management. Neither the “one-size-fits-all” enterprise, nor the ad-hoc “silo” approach is sufficient for current and future research, teaching and public service activities. The MVP proof of concept phase focused and invigorated campus partners to work toward solutions for the common good and to share their successes. This has already demonstrated substantial benefits to its participants.
• Programmatic, technological and service solutions that lead to order-of-magnitude improvements in workflow efficiencies are especially critical for digital content and knowledge management throughout the academic enterprise where the priceless commodity is time, measured in human effort.
• Digital data deluge and loss is a global crisis and a major concern that impacts all activity areas across our campus. Current backup and storage offering costs are out of reach of most end-users. Adoption is further impeded by the complexity of solutions, as well as a lack of trust in their long-term sustainability.
• UC Berkeley, internationally recognized for its research, needs to lead by example in digital scholarship by committing to innovative programs that build on the core strengths of the university, including its network of global and industrial partners.