Major research universities are grappling with their response to the deluge of scientific data emerging through research by their faculty. Many are looking to their libraries and the institutional repositories for a solution. Scientific data introduces substantial challenges that the document-based institutional repository may not be suited to deal with. The Sustainable Environment - Actionable Data (SEAD) Virtual Archive (VA) specifically addresses the challenges of ‘long tail’ scientific data. In this paper, we propose requirements, policy and architecture to support not only the preservation of scientific data today using institutional repositories, but also rich access to data and their use into the future.