Saturday, March 26, 2011


Presented by Peter Brantley

"No one is in charge of the preservation of our growing cultural heritage in digital books." -P. Brantley

Good, reliable archives are increasingly important and libraries need to be involved in preserving digital books in the future. We need to convince publishers to help us by reminding them that the loss of their assets would affect them negatively. There needs to be a national policy on digital preservation. Current US law privileges print as the best format for preservation--what if something only exists in digital form?

Challenges of digital preservation:

  • Many ebook formats: ePub is becoming a major player, but Amazon has its own format for the Kindle. Also, each company adds its own digital rights management software.
  • A book is complex: contains text, maps, illustrations, a forward, even video.
  • Items can be lost: misplaced, staff member retires and no one knows how to access it.
  • Digital databases require complex systems which increase danger of loss (cascading errors): e.g. Tumblr's recent big database failure, Flickr deleting the wrong account and having no way to get it back. What if that happened to your ebook?
  • Format obsolescence: The British Library saved a digital census on an obsolete laserdisc format and it was almost lost.

Advantages of library involvement in digital preservation:

  • Practice: Libraries have preserved things for 1,000s of years using redundancy- lots of copies keep stuff safe.
  • Low storage costs: We can preserve in redundant formats more easily now.
  • Standing: Libraries are answerable to the public, not stockholders as in the case of Google and its Book Search. Also, Google Book Search is not preservation-quality.

Players to look at in digital preservation:

Copyright needs to move forward in a digital age. We need to record copyright information for the whole world and make it an easy database query. The Copyright Office says electronic transmission is making an illegal copy, even for preservation purposes. Instead, we should require a digital copy for copyright--if you want full copyright assertions, you have to deposit a copy in a national repository.

Slides are available here and the archived webinar is here (requires latest version of Flash)

--Andrea @Central

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