The challenges faced by a digital archive like the Jewish Women’s Archive can be quite different from those faced by more traditional analog archives. Though issues such as sustainability and preservation need to be tackled by both types of repositories, the nature of the repositories ensures that these issues are approached in different ways.
Clearly, preservation of digital materials is vastly different than preservation of materials such as paper manuscripts. It requires constant upkeep in addition to both hardware and software that can prove to be expensive.
As a digital archive, the JWA is at the forefront of the digital cultural heritage field. One way that they are choosing to address the sustainability and preservation challenges they face is through collaboration with others in the field that are sure to face the same challenges. On the JWA Technology page they state, “We initiated and co-founded the DuraSpace “Small Archives” Community to find long-term, Open Source solutions that will enable preservation of all of our materials in an affordable, sustainable way.” The technologies to ensure that digital materials are preserved are still being developed and perfected. Ensuring that they include Open Source options is vital for non-proprietary organizations that value access like the JWA.
DuraSpace is an ideal solution for small digital archives as its charge is to provide these kinds of organizations with software and services in providing open access to their materials. The Small Archives Community on DuraSpace is intended to provide support for archives that are not highly funded and staffed. Their mission statement is as follows: “The mission of the Small Archive Solution Community is to address the need for small organizations to assure preservation of, dissemination of, and long term access to their cultural heritage assets. As a community we can not only further preservation access and foster knowledge sharing, but can collaborate to secure resources to develop tools, training, documentation, and general solutions. This community is intended for the thousands of small cultural heritage organizations who lack resources to implement a solution on their own.”
By collaborating with others in the field and spearheading the Small Archives Community, the JWA is not only helping themselves, they are also ensuring that the field of cultural heritage continues to thrive. By promoting the development of Open Source technologies and solutions to preservation, the JWA is working towards a cultural heritage field where digital archives are both accessible and sustained.