iPRES 2008: The Push for Digital Preservation by ProQuest


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November 2008    www.infotoday.com

      iPRES 2008: The Push for Digital Preservation
      Text and photos by JIM ASHLING       |                                                                                                                                         were present, but the group included
                                                                                                                                                                                     plenty of people who are saving digital

             n 1998, Peter Lyman and Brewster                                                                                                                                        information or providing access to it.
             Kahle pointed out in D-Lib Maga-                                                                                                                                        Whether today’s content creators are
             zine that AltaVista could search                                                                                                                                        publishers or TV and movie studios, they
      the equivalent of a stack of paper 620                                                                                                                                         are as wary of digital archives as some
                   miles high.                                                                                                                                                       journal publishers were of bibliographic
                      By 2003, an article in In-                                                                                                                                     database services more than 30 years
      R E P O RT formation Management Jour-                                                                                                                                          ago. Naturally, they have fears of losing
         F R O M nal reported that a typical                                                                                                                                         control of their content or of giving valu-
             T H E company’s Windows NT ser-                                                                                                                                         able content away.
         F I E L D ver contained the equivalent                                                                                                                                         Such fears were addressed in a session
      of a stack of documents 800 miles high. Ac-                                                                                                                                    on modeling organizational goals. There is
      cording to Horst Forster, director of the Di-                                                                                                                                  no point in preserving anything unless the
      rectorate-General for Information Society                                                                                                                                      process helps an organization meet its
      and Media of the European Commission                                                                                                                                           goals and mission. For example, in creat-
      (EC), today’s global collection of digital ob-                                                                                                                                 ing a model digital preservation policy for
      jects would create 200 stacks of paper that                                                                                                                                    higher education institutions, the Joint
      could reach to the sun, which translates                                                                                                                                       Information Systems Committee (JISC)
      to 1,021 terabytes of documents.                                                                                                                                               asked the question: “How does preserva-
          Forster provided this memorable im-                                                                                                                                        tion help deliver research and education?”
                                                              The British Library’s St. Pancras headquarters was the site of the Fifth International Conference on Preservation of
      age at the Fifth International Conference               Digital Objects (iPRES).
                                                                                                                                                                                        Many speakers said the entire issue of
      on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPRES                                                                                                                                      digital preservation is just too complex for
      2008) at The British Library (BL) Sept.                 niques; legislatures will also be urged to                  meral value, and Brindley believes that                    any single institution to deal with alone.
      29–30 in London. The most important                     create preservation policies and to develop                 we now need to “join the pieces” and in-                   There are no comprehensive off-the-shelf
      point he made was that digital content is               their legal deposit requirements. The EC                    crease public awareness.                                   commercial solutions, so collaboration is
      now being produced at a rate that exceeds               will also consider creating an appropriate                      Brindley reviewed four pioneering proj-                the only route with a call for models, pro-
      our capacity to retain it. Forster main-                curriculum for the position of digital cu-                  ects for BL: 1) Digital Lives is a research                totypes, and pilots. Cornell University’s
      tains that this important data, which rep-              rator, a role that has no real definition, un-              project focusing on personal digital collec-               participation in the now-defunct Live Book
      resents humankind’s collective memory,                  like that of an archivist or librarian.                     tions and their relationship with research                 Search project with Microsoft and with the
      is in danger of being lost.                                                                                         repositories, 2) Email Britain is a 1-month                Google digitization program has shown
          Although digital preservation is slowly             Permanent Access,                                           snapshot of British life created from an                   that a flexible approach to a preservation
      being added to the political agenda, es-                                                                            email archive of contributions from the                    policy is a necessity.
      pecially by Forster’s work at the EC, he                Not Digital Preservation                                    general public, 3) BL will participate in
      says fewer than 20% of U.K. companies                      Forster’s appeal for digital preservation                creating a complete web archive of the                     Putting the Rhetoric of
      have any digital preservation policy. The               was reflected earlier in the conference by                  entire U.K
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