Virtual Centre of Excellence



The DoW states:
A Virtual Centre of Excellence is a fairly new organizational concept. Its aim is to bring the capabilities, knowledge and expertise together from diverse teams across geographical and organization boundaries to create something exemplary and distinguishable within its domain

The key to a successful VCOE is the vision which is shared by all members, including the know-how and "know-why" of digital preservation. This know-how includes knowing who to ask about particular areas

The VCOE is therefore a membership organisation rather than a single centralised organisation. Its skills reside largely in its members; it acts as a clearing house for matters to do with digital preservation. In order to be self-sustaining it must provide some services to its members and other users in order to justify its existence. This document outlines those activities, skills and services.

See also APA Strategic Plan



The general pattern will be that the centre’s website and staff can provide the first level of information. The VCOE staff may be able to provide some in-depth advice but in most cases the expectation is that requests will be redirected to the appropriate member and other organisations which have registered available expertise with the VCoE. The work may be on a voluntary or paid basis. The virtual centre of excellence must be a reliable source of advice about many if not all aspects of digital preservation.

Audit and Certification

Audit and certification is a special type of consultancy. The VCOE staff may be certified auditors, who can perform the audits or provide consultation to help prepare for an audit. The centre will also have a register of auditors, including probably feedback from previous auditees. The audits will be part of the European framework for audit and certification, including the DSA, DIN and ISO 16363. The centre’s staff will provide advice and briefing documents on the various types of certification.

Preservation services

The preservation services and tools supported by members and other organisations will form a knowledge base of the centre, together with evidence about their effectiveness and areas of applicability.


During the APARSEN a significant amount of training material organized in a consistent and coherent way will have been identified and all created. This will form the basis of the training materials available from the centre, and we expect this material to grow over time. The organisation and quality of the material will be informed by the common vision of digital preservation research which APARSEN will produce, and this will be kept under continued review in the centre and its members. It is expected that the centre will organise training courses which will be self-funding and employee external as well as internal lecturers. There will be a variety of training mechanisms including face to face and virtual. The straining will be coordinated with the national training events which are provided by its members such as DPC and nestor.

Collaboration broker

In a broad sense of the centre can act as an incubator for collaboration between its members and partners in order to enable the best use of resources and had the best return on the investment in digital resources. The website and associated discussion fora will be key tools in enabling this, in addition to the more proactive involvement of staff in seminars and training events.

Research leader

As for the APA does now, the virtual centre of excellence will act as an incubator for research projects in digital preservation and has a clearing house for results of this research across its members.


The centre will provide through its internal resources or a commissioning, outside, briefing papers and responses to national and European consultations.


The APA, and a the membership organisations such as DPC, LIBER and nestor, provide the model for sustainability based on membership fees and charged services such as training courses.

Business plan

The details of the business plan for the VCOE will be collected here
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Topic revision: r4 - 2013-06-13 - VeronikaPraendlZika
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