Monday, March 12, 2007

Digital Preservation

Some of you will have seen this long article on digital preservation that appeared in Sunday's New York Times. It is quite interesting and certainly identifies some of the issues regarding the amount of and cost related to preservation and digitization of historic materials. The worrying thing to me however, was the seeming underlying suggestion that if materials are not digitized they will somehow become lost. Users/seekers/researchers may not know of the availability of some obscure article of research because if it is not digitized they will not know about it. Which is untrue of course, because the material will be catalogued and the catalog record will always be available on a network (such as WorldCat). So the slight hysteria of the article should be taken with a grain of salt, but what is important is the cost and effort involved in digitizing the archives.

This is a very real issue and the article does a good job of reflecting the issues. I am reminded of something I read years ago in relation to content digitization along the lines of 'only 10% of the content will be used in electronic form the problem is you never know which 10%'.

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