The preservation of the University's digital assets arises from a twofold mandate:
- scholarly commitment; and
- institutional responsibility
As an institution of higher education, Northern Illinois University strives to promote excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service. In addition, NIU follows an Open Access Policy that requires faculty members to deposit copies of their published research in the Huskie Commons institutional repository. As more resources and services associated with these functions become digital, the Library's responsibilities must expand to include the identification, stewardship, and preservation of designated digital content campus-wide.
The Library's commitment to digital preservation is explicitly stated in the initiatives outlined in the current strategic plan, which calls for the Library to collect, preserve, and provide access to the University's digital and intellectual assets (e.g. theses, dissertations, pre and post prints, and data sets), and ensure long-term access to unique collections.
The University Archives also serves as the repository for all official records of the University that have permanent historical or administrative value, including those in electronic format.
Further, NIU has mandated responsibilities to preserve and maintain access to certain digital objects. Some legal obligations derived from State laws require the Library to maintain files in an archival fashion, including the Illinois State Records Act and the OpenAccess to Research Articles Act. The University Archives and Rare Books and Special Collections must also adhere to the State Records Act and Deed of Gift agreements.