UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES DEAN Tyler Walters was recently appointed governing board chair of Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), a consortium of colleges and universities across the country committed to providing a preservation repository for digital content and developing related services.

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech has been a member of APTrust since 2014, and Walters began his service as a board member soon after. This valuable membership leverages expertise, infrastructure, and financial resources across member universities to collaboratively preserve digital content.

“Preserving digital content, whether it’s born digital or converted from physical items, requires deep technical infrastructure, technical and curatorial knowledge, and financial resources. All of these are typically more than any one institution possesses,” said Walters. “The main value is in supplying our universities with a reasonable, practical approach to preserving our digital materials for decades to come, and longer than that in many cases. Plus, through the APTrust we are improving our knowledge as we share with one another our perspectives, experiences, and skills.”

Walters understands digital preservation well and has previously served as chair of the board for DuraSpace (now LYRASIS), a board member for Educopia and the MetaArchive network, and the first steering committee chair for the National Digital Stewardship Alliance established by the Library of Congress.

Challenges abound in the technical, human resource, policy, and financial areas of digital preservation work. 

“APTrust has a solid technical base and a core technical team that members trust and rely on — we are in good shape. The most immediate challenge I see is the costs involved,” said Walters. “They stand in the way of all of us preserving a relatively small subset of our digital collections versus all of them. We need to work at scale, which includes innovating around the finances of preserving a great deal of content. This is a major challenge that I think about quite often.”

Walters looks forward to his role in helping to guide future developments in digital preservation as the governing board chair.

“I plan to help guide the ongoing, steady improvement in technical infrastructure, best practices, and policies deployed by the APTrust and its members. As each year goes by, we get better at what we do,” said Walters. “I want to see that trajectory continue and stay open to considering any significant, new opportunities that might come our way.”