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This paper describes and explores the concept of perceived preservation levels and their implications. Perceived preservation levels are a way to communicate preservation policies, options and actions to the various stakeholders in digital preservation a digital preservation system is capable and able of. While explicitly assigned or stated preservation levels are promises to adhere to a certain set of policies and decisions, it may be hard to impossible for a best effort preservation service to fulfill these expectations. Perceived preservation levels combine different outcomes from preservation actions with preservation options and available resources to convey a holistic view of the archive’s worflow and decision states. A preservation system providing information about current states of digital objects puts the data producers in a position to reassure themselves of the trustworthiness of the archive without the need of formal certification. This openness has implications not only for the trust relationship between producer and archive but provides the opportunity to constantly reassess the archive’s decisions and priorities from the outside.
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