What Digital Preservation Can Learn from Library History
Cómo construir la piedra rosetta del futuro
Keepers of the Crumbling Culture: What Digital Preservation Can Learn from Library History
Technological advances come equipped with both affordances and
unintended consequences. Preservation has its own well-known examples
of technological advances leading to problems for librarians to solve:
- "Brittle books," the product of nineteenth-century technological innovations that had produced inexpensive paper;
- Bulk microfilming techniques employing scanning equipment that required the spines of books to be cut off;
- Reformatting — or "re-purposing" as our colleagues in the
music industry call it — of analog tapes to digital, only to
discover that the digital media are more fragile than we realize.
Preservation of new media is even more problematic than preservation
of earlier ones. By one estimate, as much as half of the global motion
picture library may become inaccessible in 10 to 15 years because the
storage media have degraded .
To understand how preservation will be addressed in the 21st century,
we need to look at how librarians have responded to preservation needs
in the past and ask what can we learn from that experience to enable
our culture save in usable form its proliferation of electronic
information. One major change is the shift from preservation of the
medium or the physical artifact — that is, the book or the reel
of tape — as a means of preserving content, to preservation of
content that may be platform-independent together with meaningful
access to that content.