The Formation of the Academic Preservation Trust

[For a more detailed outline of APTrust’s history and the maturation of its operating concepts through 2017, see “In Medias Res: An Examination of Work in Progress at the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) Consortium” at https://doi.org/10.18130/v3-f34g-3d50. Also please note that historical accounts of APTrust often refer to the Digital Preservation Network, which ceased operations in December 2018.]

In August 2011, University of Virginia Dean of Libraries, Karin Wittenborg, and James Hilton, then Chief Information Officer, convened a meeting of colleagues from six universities (Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University) to discuss the challenges of preserving the growing amount of digital content. The group discussed the possibility of aligning each institution’s preservation efforts to:

  • preserve the scholarly record in ways that would allow the digital copy to be the copy of record
  • provide sustained funding for digital preservation of the scholarly record
  • accomplish more together

Coalescing around the need to preserve academic content and believing a community approach would be more productive, they created a consortium, Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), that was committed to creating and managing an aggregated preservation repository.

The group invited five additional like-minded institutions to become founding members of the consortium: Columbia University, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, and Syracuse University.  

Each of the founding members recognized the value of leveraging joint resources and defining common goals. With these principles, the Academic Preservation Trust was born. 

The solid alignment of the members was instrumental in creating this value statement:

The Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) consortium is committed to the creation and management of a preservation repository that will aggregate academic and research content from many institutions. Solutions will be based on respected open-source technologies that are scalable, sustainable, and provide audit functionality.

As part of a national strategy for long-term preservation, the APTrust repository will serve as a replicating node for the Digital Preservation Network (DPN). At the local level, APTrust will provide a preservation environment for participating members, including disaster recovery services. By leveraging the expertise and resources of multiple institutions, APTrust will realize economies of scale and increase value for all members.

The consortium will work together to determine the shape of future services and best practices as they align around solutions for the common good.  Ultimately, APTrust will enable academic libraries to protect the scholarship produced by the academy, a value that will transcend us all.*

Currently the Academic Preservation Trust includes public and private higher education-members, but is exploring additional membership models. It remains a consortium that values collaboration among the leaders, technologists, and content specialists from each member institution.

The APTrust Story: a collaborative model for digital preservation by Martha Sites, Deputy University Librarian, University of Virginia, 04/22/13 (https://doi.org/10.18130/V3SF2P).