Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting the whole picture: Finding a common language between digital preservation and conservation

Getting the whole picture: Finding a common language between digital preservation andconservation. Douglas Elford, et al. 7th AICCM Book, Photographs, and Paper Symposium. August 29-31, 2012. [PDF]
  • In spite of the intangible and at times ephemeral nature of digital collections, the fundamental purpose driving both digital preservation and conservation are conceptually quite similar.
  • collection policies that suit digital content in the networked environment are, for the most part, yet to be put into practice.
  • While some new approaches to collecting digital materials in a proactive manner (including more frequently and via semi-automated mechanisms) are required, it is imperative that the field of digital preservation also borrows from long-established collection and conservation processes and practices that have been refined over decades by preservation professionals
  • Acquiring, managing, preserving and providing access to digital culture is a challenge that is faced by all cultural and heritage organisations worldwide  digital preservation is driven by the ongoing long-term access of a digitised item or born-digital collection, whereas preservation strategies for tangible collections are determined by the immediate needs of the item to ensure its stability and longevity, though digital preservation practices could learn and borrow from conservation processes.
  • Websites are also inherently time sensitive and ephemeral in nature
  • Authenticity of collection items is an influential factor in conservation work. Determining the authenticity of digital objects is equally as important. Considerable effort should be undertaken to ensure that the integrity and authenticity of an item are maintained. 
  • Preservation strategies should enhance rather than compromise access to collections. This is also applicable in the digital realm. Before access to digital content can be provided to users, active management and ongoing preservation of digital content is necessary.
  • A successful digital preservation policy would also address the preservation needs of digital items created by an institution itself, such as photographs from digitisation programs.
  • National Library of Australia uses the Prometheus workflow system, and have developed Mediapedia, an online knowledge-base resource for identifying physical and digital carriers and their associated dependencies.
  • Active digital preservation is yet to become mainstream practice in many cultural organisations


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