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As the world becomes digital, we are in ever greater danger of losing business, scientific, artistic, cultural, and personal assets. The threat of such a digital dark age stems from the fact that—unlike physical records that may survive decades, centuries, or even longer without advanced planning—digital records will not survive without planning and diligence. Everything needed to keep digital records viable will become obsolete, including hardware, software, processes, and formats. Consequently, digital preservation environments are needed to ensure the ability to access valuable digital records decades from now and, more significantly, to ensure the interpretability of the records once accessed. We describe Preservation DataStores, an innovative storage architecture that facilitates robust and optimized preservation environments. It is a layered architecture that builds upon open standards, including Open Archival Information System, XAM (Extensible Access Method), and Object-based Storage Device. We also describe the integration of Preservation DataStores with existing file systems and archives and discuss some design and implementation issues. We are developing Preservation DataStores as an infrastructure component of the European Union CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval) project, where it will be used to preserve scientific, cultural, and artistic data.
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