Bodleian Libraries digital policies: Architecture

Just as a physical library requires a safe and secure infrastructure with buildings, shelving, heating and lighting in which to house and manage its content so the digital library requires a safe and secure infrastructure with storage, back-ups, computing and electricity in which to house and manage its content.


a) Integrated library infrastructure - In so far as it is possible, the Bodleian Libraries will operate a single infrastructure supporting both the needs of digital asset management and day to day library operations. This is in order to maximise the utilisation of the available resources and to minimise the administrative overhead.

b) Virtualisation - The Libraries' infrastructure will exploit virtualisation technologies in order to maximise its utilisation of the available physical resources, provide a flexible environment responsive to the Libraries' needs and help ensure the high availability of the critical systems.

c) Scalability - The Libraries' infrastructure should scale to meet the demands of new services and increasing data volumes.

d) Dual site - The Libraries' physical infrastructure (i.e. servers, storage etc.) will be split over two primary locations to provide redundancy and resilience for key operational systems. Other sites may be utilised for development and test environments.

e) Storage Capacity - The Libraries' infrastructure will support storage capacity on an n-Petabyte scale. This will include both disk and tape storage according to the immediacy with which access is required to the data (in the same way that physical books are stored both within library buildings and, for low use material, in off-site book storage). Storage media will be sourced from multiple vendors to mitigate the risk of systemic failure posing a risk to long term preservation.

f) Network Capacity - The Libraries' network infrastructure will provide capacity commensurate with the needs of an n-Petabyte storage environment and the supporting application landscape.

g) Back-up regime In order to preserve applications and data, and to provide a route for efficient recovery, a rigorous back-up regime will be applied across the infrastructure.

h) Disaster Recovery A disaster recovery policy will be developed and tested to ensure that in the event of a disaster, systems and data can be restored with the minimum of impact to library users. To maximise the effectiveness of finite resources, a tiered model should be adopted with proportionally more invested in the critical operational systems so they can be recovered quickest.

i) Security A tiered security model will be developed and applied. This will look at all aspects of the environment, from physical access to the hardware to highly restricted access to specific sensitive data or data types. The security model will adhere to the Libraries' information security policy, relevant University of Oxford policies and any applicable legislation (e.g. copyright).

j) A common platform the Libraries' infrastructure will provide a common platform for the provision of computing resources. This platform will serve as a flexible pool of 'computing resource' (processing power, storage, etc.) which can be deployed according to needs. It will be flexible in its support of operating systems and applications, as determined by the needs of the Libraries and its users, but will ensure that all are managed in a consistent and controlled manner.

k) IT Services alignment - The libraries work in partnership with University of Oxford's central IT Services team and are dependent on them for the provision of key services such as the network backbone. Where practicable the Libraries' infrastructure will utilize other central services and will work with IT Services to align operational practices and to develop new services for the benefit of the collegiate University.


The principles set out above describe the target digital architecture, not necessarily the current situation. As such, the principles shall be used to conduct gap analysis and define steps to be taken, i.e. projects to be proposed or risks to be added to the risk registers.

Relationship with other policies

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Digital Preservation Policy, Metadata Policy, Digitization Policy and Information Security Policy.


(1) Responsibility: The Bodleian Technical Architecture Group (BTAG) is responsible ensuring adherence to this policy and for reviewing the individual design decisions that will be required in the implementation of this policy.

(2) Review: This policy will be reviewed before the end of each calendar year by the Digital Library Steering Group. 

(3) Editor and primary contact for the Digital Architecture Policy:
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