Digital Records Program

In the future many people will need access to viable, authentic, representative, and usable evidence concerning the core operations of Queen’s University, as well as the information, knowledge, and forms of expression that have resulted from those activities.  Since most records produced in the last 20 years have been created and managed in digital formats, and since the volume of such records grows every year, Queen’s University Archives takes active steps to identify, preserve, and provide access to the significant records that we and our partners believe will be necessary to provide students and scholars with research materials related to and grant our institution the ability to preserve vital business functions. 

This program statement outlines how we intend to meet the challenges of identifying, preserving, and providing access to digital records of historical and legal importance at Queen’s University. 

Program Charge and Mandate

Queen’s University Archives (QUA) is charged with preserving the recorded institutional memory of Queen’s University, as well as “an archival resource of national, provincial, and regional significance, to prevent the destruction or loss of culturally important records, and to support teaching, research and outreach at Queen's University.” As part of this mandate, we will acquire, preserve, and provide access to digital records and manuscript materials that fall within the documentary scope provided in section 4 below. 

We are committed to acting as a responsible steward of all digital records that we manage and assist in managing, so that such records may be viable and accessible for as long as they are needed, by whomever they are needed.


As we seek to fulfill this charge, we will work with the following groups and organizations to implement technologies and procedures that support our commitment to identify, preserve, and provide access to digital materials that are deposited in our repository: 

  • Donors and record producers 

  • Queen's University Library Discovery and Technical Services (DTS)

  • Queen's University Information Technology Services (ITS) 

  • Queen’s University Records Management Committee 

  • Queen’s University Administration 

Documentary Scope

We seek to identify, preserve, and provide access to records concerning the core operations of Queen’s University, and supporting the research interests of faculty.  We acquire records from the University’s offices and departments, as well as from private donors, and we will maintain materials for use by the University and future researchers. 

Guiding Values and Commitments 

  • We strive to implement the Open Archival Information Reference Model (OAIS) standards (ISO 14721:2012) and to store digital records in a digital repository that meets best practices. 

  • We, along with our partners, will use hardware, software and storage media that comply with industry-standard best practices and procedures. 

  • We will utilize and adhere to community and other standards concerning the appraisal, arrangement, description, preservation, and access of all materials in our digital records repository. 

  • We will clearly document our policies, procedures, and practices. 

  • We strive to maintain accurate records concerning the authenticity, provenance, chain of custody, and integrity of all records deposited with us. 

  • We will comply with ownership, copyright and intellectual property rights as they affect digital content in our repository. 

  • The exact level of preservation services that we provide for a particular record set will depend on the technical quality and completeness of the data as it is deposited with us.  We may seek to augment such data. 

Pre-deposit services

Before records transfer, we will provide advice and assistance to individuals or groups producing records that fall within our documentary scope.  Such advice and assistance may help ensure that records are more easily used during their active life and that they are easier to identify, authenticate, organize, preserve and disseminate after deposit with us. 

We offer the following services to help achieve this goal: 

  • Consulting regarding the design or implementation of digital filing and storage systems. 

  • Criteria for evaluating document and digital records management systems. 

  • Development of records management plans/disposal authorizations 

  • Verification of records to be transferred to Archives 

Acquisition of Records

We will acquire, manage, and provide access only to records that have been determined to have permanent legal, administrative, or historical value.   We will not manage digital records that must be retained merely to meet temporary legal, financial, audit, or records-retention requirements. 

Factors affecting the determination of permanent value include, but are not limited to:  

  • Prior determination of value under an approved records retention schedule and appraisal by the archivist.

  • Appropriateness of records under our collection policy.

Digital materials will be transferred to our custody under the terms of an authorized submission agreement (Records Transfer Form). The submission agreement will serve as the basis for the generation of archival management information and will list conditions and commitments pertinent to the deposit that it covers. 

We will permanently maintain the submission agreement, will link it to records received under its authority, and will provide a copy to the records producer/creator upon request. 

Processing of Records

A processing and preservation plan will be developed for every set of digital records that is deposited with us.  This plan will be maintained as part of the submission agreement and/or preservation description information described below. 

All records submitted to us will be arranged, described, and processed for storage in our digital records repository.  To the extent possible, we will use the processes and procedures listed in our digital records processing guidelines. When necessary, we will use other techniques and will describe the techniques and software used in a processing noted included in the preservation description information. 

During processing, we may decide that certain records do not warrant permanent preservation, based on our documentation policy and appraisal criteria.  In this case, we will describe the nature of the files that we did not include and will alert the records creator to any actions we have taken. 

We may undertake one of more preservation actions to migrate or convert records to a supported format prior to deposit in our digital records repository.  We will describe any preservation actions and will maintain a record of them in the Preservation Description Information described below. 

In the case of records transferred or migration to another format for preservation and access purposes, we will maintain a copy of all records deposited with us in their original format. 

We will maintain documentation concerning preservation actions and tools that we utilize in our processing workflow. 

Management of Digital Materials

We will manage digital records so that all materials in our repository are identifiable, viable, renderable, understandable, and authentic.  All digital records that are deposited with us will consist of an information packet, which will be comprised of: 

  • The “Digital Content Object” that is the focus of preservation, along with information necessary to render and understand the object.  For a full description of the information and procedures that we use to manage digital objects, see our Content Information Management Policy.

  • “Preservation Description Information,” to support preservation and access to the object.  This includes:  

    • Reference information: to uniquely identify the records and to associate them with other resources. 

    • Descriptive information: to describe the intellectual content of the records. 

    • Provenance Information: to describe and the context under which they were created and used, as well as their subsequent chain of custody. 

    • Structural information: to describe the organization of individual files within the record set 

    • Fixity Information: to record information necessary to verify the integrity and authenticity of records from the time received by us until their deposited with us, such as checksums.

The Digital Content Object and the Preservation Description Information will remain bound together into a single logical unit, although they may be managed in separate technologies. 

We will fully document any preservation actions taken to extend the period in which digital records can be used.  For each preservation action undertaken, we will record pertinent information in the Preservation Description Information that is part of the information packet for the object. 

We will perform periodic audits of the preservation system and the integrity and completeness of objects and preservation description information that we manage. 

Access and Use of Digital Materials

We will maintain a list of supported file formats.  Each supported format will be an open standard and we will make every effort to provide tools to normalize unsupported file formats.  When possible, and in exceptional circumstances, we may also be able to emulate the original environment in which the document was created. 

Records that are deemed open for public use will be accessible and readable through Queen’s University Archives database and Queen's University Digital Collections.