Walking a tightrope across the gap of digital preservation and environmental sustainability

Sophia van Hoek (Cultural Heritage), graduated with her thesis titled: "Walking a tightrope across the gap of digital preservation and environmental sustainability: The National Archives of the Netherlands and the challenge of achieving a climate-neutral digital archive."

Sophia explains, 'Since digital objects have existed, digital preservation has existed. Digital preservation is the set of processes and activities necessary to preserve digital collections through time: we are talking about achieving digital sustainability.

With my research, I am asking the question: how can the cultural sector reduce in a responsible way without sacrificing the necessary digital sustainability? As a first step towards a green digital archive, this research describes several examples of climate-friendly considerations in digital preservation. Described cases address the situation at the National Archives; emulation versus conversion as a method to preserve access to digital objects, preservation tools to perform impact assessments and fixity checking to monitor the integrity of digital objects. This thesis is also intended as an open call to the international GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector to be aware of the impact of the digital archive on the environment, and that further research into minimizing our digital footprint is highly necessary.'

Walking a tightrope across the gap of digital preservation and environmental sustainability


"For the cultural sector, digital sustainability is extremely important; after all, it is about the continuation of our collections"


Fifine Kist, supervising lecturer Bachelor at the Reinwardt Academy, commented, 'Sophia has linked a very relevant and topical theme in her research, climate change and how to deal with it in the heritage field, to the sustainable management of digital archives: Green IT. This research makes an important contribution to the current discussions going on in the field in this area.'

Jacob Takema, Senior Advisor Preservation at the National Archives, 'Sophia has done an extraordinary job with this thesis, demonstrating deep understanding and expertise in both digital preservation and environmental sustainability. This thesis is not only well-written but also exhibits in-depth analysis of the complex challenges faced by The National Archives of the Netherlands in pursuing a climate-neutral digital archive. By combining the global issue of environmental sustainability with the challenge of keeping large-scale digital information accessible for eternity, Sophia has made a significant contribution within the field.

A project by:

Sophia van Hoek