Digital Asset Registers

As part of Our Digital Century, we commissioned the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) to develop a toolkit on creating and maintaining a digital asset register (DAR) for your archive.

What is a digital asset register?

A digital asset register is used to gather information about digital content to support understanding of and facilitate the efficient management of its preservation. They are a key tool in an archive’s digital preservation activities. Information is captured at a high-level summary overview and can be collated in a spreadsheet, a database or another format that is useful in your own context.

Why you need one

A digital asset register will help to support understanding of your organisation’s digital content. It can help to identify gaps, overlap, related risks and other information that help you make preservation decisions and manage the content over time.

A DAR helps you by

  • Maintaining intellectual control of the digital content held by your organisation
  • Acts as a finding aid for content that isn’t fully processed
  • Providing information needed to plan and prioritise digital content ingest and processing
  • Facilitating retention decisions and processes
  • Establishing clear responsibilities for the management and preservation of digital content
  • Developing advocacy messaging around the management and preservation of digital content

If you aren’t sure where to begin with your organisation’s digital preservation activities, start with the creation of a digital asset register.

What is the toolkit comprised of?

The creation and development of a digital asset register can be multifaceted depending on your organisation. You may need to talk to your colleagues in different departments about the digital content they manage as well as conducting your own survey about digital content you may already hold in the archive.

The toolkit is comprised of three downloadable resources and a short course.

The three downloadable resources are:

  • A written guide covering all aspects of digital asset register creation and management, and a step-by-step guide on building one that includes:
    • Identifying motivations for building a DAR
    • Setting its scope
    • Making a plan
    • Gathering and adding information
    • Using your DAR
    • Updating your DAR
    • Reviewing your DAR
  • A register template that you can use to record details about your digital content. The template comprises a ‘Register’ sheet, a ‘Summary Dashboard’ sheet that includes a ‘Summary of Content Amounts’ table and visualisations of the data recorded in your register, and guidance on using the template and guidance on updating the template.
  • A ‘Development Plan’ template that will assist you with planning your DAR. The Development Plan is split into two sections: the first with questions that will help guide the creation of your register, and the second focused on capturing practical details relating to its development. The questions covered in the template are just a starting point and can be adapted to your own needs. 

The short course on digital asset registers is available via the DPC’s learning management system and is styled in the same way as the Novice to Know-How learning pathway. Comprised of five modules, the short course provides another entry point into learning about the creation and management of a digital asset register.  

Accessing the resources

Below are links to download all the resources:

To access the short course, you can sign up for free on the DPC website.

If you prefer to access the full toolkit via webpages, you can do this via the DPC’s website.

How to use the resources

You can use the DAR resources independently of the other digital preservation focused resources we have published to enable you to create and implement a register in your own organisation.

However, you can also use this guidance in conjunction with our other resources, depending on where you are in your digital preservation journey in your organisation:

  • You can begin by taking the Novice to Know-How course. This will help give you the skills required to develop and implement digital preservation workflows within your own organisation.
  • You can then begin to plan and develop a digital asset register for managing your organisation’s digital content.
  • Using our digital preservation workflow guidance, you can begin to implement management and preservation workflows for your digital content.

Further reading

To find out more about Novice to Know-How, please see the DPC’s webpages.

To access the digital preservation workflows, please see our dedicated webpages.

Further guidance on digital collections can be found on our Preserving digital collections webpages.