SPN is a coordinated, distributed effort to
ensure long term access to software through community engagement, infrastructure support and knowledge generation.

SPN was formed in 2016 during the Software Preservation Network Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. SPN believes that  software should be curated and preserved because it is both: a dependency to access existing digital data and because it has intrinsic cultural value due to its mediating role in our lives. Software is critical information infrastructure. 

Network participation includes colleagues from design firms, public libraries, history of computing museums, research data archives, university libraries and the open source software community. Individual participants range in role and perspective, including legal scholar-practitioners, digital preservation specialists, metadata specialists, data curators, digital conservators, knowledge managers, archivists, software developers and data journalists.

Strategic Goals

We will engage with communities to preserve software by…

  • Communicating SPN’s priorities and trajectory in the form of working group updates, committee updates, and updates from SPN staff.
  • Defining the use of specific platforms (e.g. blog, twitter, listservs, conferences) and targets for each (e.g., number of posts, number of presentations) and assess engagement after 1 year.
  • Ensuring engagement of base membership by holding internal committees working groups accountable to provide updates and providing acknowledgement of the work that happens outside of the committees and working groups.
  • Participating in activities and initiatives undertaken by related software preservation programs and projects, including active outreach to related software preservation programs and projects.

We will support infrastructure to preserve software by….

  • Articulating and publishing a coordination model and procedures for the SPN organization, including description of roles, responsibilities, and associated accountability measures by the end of the seed-funding period.
  • Establishing a revised operating budget by the end of the seed-funded period to provide ongoing operational support to address ongoing legal needs, travel support for active participants to represent SPN at conferences, provide a virtual meeting platform, convene meetings for members, and host or identify a shared documentation repository for SPN generated software preservation research outputs.
  • Empowering cultural heritage organizations to preserve software by outlining and implementing a clear law and policy agenda for SPN with a goal of creating advocates for fair use within our membership and beyond by the end of the seed-funded period.
  • Working with emulation service providers to map out possible service agreements for SPN members by the end of 2020 and launching a documentation portal that includes guidance on different technical approaches by the end of the seed-funded period.
  • Connecting people to information by establishing an international directory of software preservation programs and related efforts by the end of the seed funded period.

We will generate knowledge to enable software preservation by….

  • Collaborating on ongoing software preservation research efforts by convening a representative group of interested SPN members and external experts from allied domains and initiatives to develop a software preservation research agenda with a charge to identify short-term and long-term objectives and complete their work in 2020.
  • Scanning for gaps in the documentation of standards and methods that advance good practice in preserving software and prioritizing the development of any new standards and any documentation that may be required. We will ensure that any external standards or documentation are appropriately referenced, and that any new documentation is shared with the SPN community and more broadly in the location where SPN documentation is maintained. 
  • Facilitating capacity building for software preservation beyond SPN membership — sharing resources such as survey instruments, software inventory guides, prompts for envisioning future services, and other resources generated by affiliated projects, committees, and working groups




SPN connects and engages the diverse communities of information and communication technology, cultural heritage preservation, law, public policy, social science, natural science, arts, and humanities organizations that create, use and curate software.



SPN encourages the software development and research communities to build tools; develop methodologies; create robust documentation; and adhere to practices for software that facilitate long-term access.



SPN enables long-term access to software and software-dependent cultural heritage through standards development, documentation, software development, and training.



SPN is dedicated to earning the trust of our broad community through open documentation, open processes, and open standards.



SPN raises awareness for the essential role of software preservation in effective digital stewardship through the combined efforts of collecting organizations, academic researchers, legal experts, software developers & vendors, archivists, media archaeologists & information technology professionals.

Theory of Action: Collective Impact


SPN connects and engages the diverse communities of information and communication technology, cultural heritage preservation, law, public policy, social science, natural science, arts, and humanities organizations that create, use and curate software.

Shared Measurement

Helps each stakeholder group to determine what specific, incremental steps it may take towards the collective agenda. SPN currently has strategic goals for 2018 - 2020 which allow members to measure progress towards the collective agenda.

Reinforcing Activities

Stakeholder-specific work (the work of a single organization or grouping of organizations within SPN) must be coordinated so that each group’s work bears an explicit, reciprocal relationship with the work of the whole collective. 

Constant Communication

Constant communication is necessary to demonstrate a commitment to fairness and evidence-based decision making overtime. SPN uses internal meetings, community events and the STACKTRACE Newsletter to exchange information.

Backbone Organization

SPN has undertaken the coordination and management of the day-to-day facilitation work, including stakeholder engagement, communications, and data collection and analysis. Paid support roles will exist moving forward to facilitate greater impact and accountability.

Join Us!

As SPN transitions from an exclusively grant-funded and in-kind support model to a self-sustaining member-driven organization, we hope you will consider joining our growing community of practice. You can learn more about SPN’s accomplishments, and our plans for the future, in our Software Preservation Network Prospectus.