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Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories

5.3 Retention and disposal

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Depending on a repository’s internal policies and agreements with donors, disk images, system files, inaccessible files, unlawful content, damaged or blank media, and content that falls outside a repository’s collecting policy may all be candidates for return to the donor followed by secure destruction. Any action should be well documented and supported by the acquisition agreement and a repository’s policies.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 For example, repositories might consider developing a retention policy for damaged media whose contents are ultimately inaccessible. An acquisition agreement might include language stating how and under what circumstances materials may be culled from a collection, and be supported by a policy outlining how these materials will be disposed of securely. Equally, some repositories may be reluctant to delete the last known copy of a file, and may insist that the donor take responsibility for its destruction.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 A blank disk or one containing inaccessible files might still hold cultural value as a physical object or even as a teaching tool. Even if some files are currently unavailable due to an esoteric file format or disk format, if the bits represented by the file or disk have been captured, future technologies (or a dedicated research project) may make it possible to interpret these bits in a meaningful way. Thus a repository may come to regret not retaining apparently inaccessible material. It is also important to note that in a digital context, neglect, or a decision not to devote resources to active preservation, is often tantamount to gradual but inexorable destruction.

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/borndigital/post-acquisition-review-by-the-repository/retention-and-disposal/