VCU Libraries joins Academic Preservation Trust consortium to better support our  digital future

April 3, 2023
An outline of Virginia over a blue net.

The governing board of the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) has selected Virginia Commonwealth University as the latest sustaining member to join its community. 

APTrust is a consortium of higher education institutions committed to providing both a preservation repository for digital content and collaboratively developing services related to that content. The 18 members of APTrust represent the nation’s major research universities, VCU Quest peers and other Virginia R1 institutions Virginia Tech and The University of Virginia, which manages the consortium. Membership in APTrust will complement VCU Libraries’ ongoing commitments to digital preservation including existing technology platforms and the current membership in the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.

Ethical and technical stewardship of digital materials for future use is an ongoing challenge for academic libraries. Technology is ever-changing. The challenges of preserving digitized and born digital materials, making them widely accessible and maintaining those platforms and materials over time is a costly and continuing commitment for librarians

The APTrust service accepts digital materials in all formats from member institutions and provides redundant storage in the cloud. The consortium leverages the expertise of its members to identify and articulate needs for the digital content environment, to prioritize service development and to collaboratively build solutions. This approach generates economies of scale and increases value for all member universities.

APTrust will give us access to a new layer of digital preservation to store our items of enduring value, and more importantly access to a community that is interested in systematically addressing the challenges of long-term preservation for digital material,” said Associate Dean for Scholarly Communications and Publishing Jimmy Ghaphery. “Striving to look forward hundreds of years in isolation is a guarantee for shortsightedness. I welcome the ability to be part of an organization that is working collaboratively to test and find solutions to keep our material perpetually available for our communities.”

The membership in the consortium presents new avenues for VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives.  “Digital preservation is one of the most important requirements of a modern archival repository and it is our responsibility as Special Collections and Archives is to ensure successful stewardship of digital content for posterity,” said department head Chrystal Carpenter. “The partnership with APTrust is an exciting opportunity to engage with a robust consortium to address and find meaningful digital preservation solutions.”

APTrust Executive Director Bradley Daigle said that the VCU brings new elements to the multi-institution collaboration. “Our APTrust Members are known for their engagement and commitment to digital preservation. We learn and develop new solutions based on shared expertise - VCU Libraries is a great addition to that shared work."

"I have worked closely with the VCU libraries staff over the years and am thrilled to have them join APTrust and add to our growing community of practice.”

Always seeking a broader and more diverse community of practice is a hallmark of APTrust, Daigle said. “Our best hope in overcoming the obstacles that always-evolving digital materials put before us is to leverage this community–to nurture relationships that accelerate our progress and multiply the positive effects of our work. People and organizations that approach us with such strategies in mind quickly feel at home with APTrust. I’m confident that VCU  will experience just that.”

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