Friday, February 06, 2015

Preserving progress for future generations

Preserving progress for future generations. Rebecca Pool. Research Information. February/March 2015.
Digital preservation remains one of the most critical challenges facing scholarly communities today. From e-journals and e-books to emails, blogs and more, electronic content is proliferating and organizations worldwide are trying to preserve information before the electronic information is lost. Some of the organizations include: Portico (which preserves content on behalf of participating publishers; the number of open access journals it includes is rising, ); CLOCKSS (still grappling with the cost models of providing preservation service).

There is a rising demand for the preservation of dynamic content. No one is able to "capture dynamic content and [preserve] a day-to-day, or even, minute-to-minute feed of this content." There are only snapshots. CLOCKSS is developing the ‘how to’ process to preserve these ‘snapshots’ across multiple locations, validating each against the other, and is also exploring the best pricing structures to preserve such content.

Other organizations include LOCKSS, The Digital Preservation Network, HathiTrust, Preservica, Archivematica, and Rosetta, whose recent clients are the State Library of New South Wales and the State Library of Queensland.

The digital preservation development is clearly gaining momentum, growing in both size and complexity. "Clearly progress is being made and you can measure that by the maturity of solutions on offer." But for most organizations, the urgency of digital preservation has yet to hit home.

"Trying to sell the idea of digital preservation on the basis of return on investment has been very hard. By its nature, it’s a long-term activity and you’re really hedging your bets against future risks. I think we are still in the very early days of genuinely understanding the value of digital assets... and transferring this understanding over to financial assets doesn’t yet work very well." The European consortium 4C (Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation) has been investigating this problem. Their road map helps organisations appraise digital assets, adopt a strategy to grow preservation assets and develop costing processes. In addition they have developed a model for curation costs. The only way to understand the costs of preservation is though sharing, through openness and collaboration.

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