Saturday, December 24, 2005

Digital Preservation

Digital preservation issues have become more prominent in 2005. A recent deposit, "The Preservation of Digital Content" by Michele Cloonan and Shelby Sanett published in Portal: Libraries and the Academy (Vol. 5 (2), April 2005), focuses on preserving authentic records in electronic systems. Below are relevant excerpts about the study origins, methods used, major finding and future work:

"The study emanated from the authors work on the Preservation Task Force of the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) project. This article incorporates the findings of a survey and individual key-informant interviews conducted from August 2001 through February 2003, round 2 of a larger 3-part study."

Methods: This was a mixed methods qualitative study with eight survey participants and 18 interviewees in round two, representing participants in North America, Europe, and Australia (here's the list of institutions surveyed and the key informants who participated). The research instruments can also be viewed online:
Questionnaire on Preservation Strategies for Electronic Records: Round 2 and Questions for Key Informants.

Major Finding: "We particularly note that there is not as yet a consensus on a single preservation strategy. Should we expect it or want it? We suggest that an area of further research might be an exploration of several forms of preservation strategies within one project - a suite-of-tools approach. It may be that one type of preservation strategy is more effective for particular types of records than another, or a particular type of preservation strategy may be more cost-effective to use than another for a particular institutions needs. At some point, we as a community must find answers to these challenges and take the opportunity to compare the performance of various preservation strategies and their costs across types of records as an institution would have to do in order to make choices appropriate to its operations and mission. In an ideal world, the pragmatism of the survey respondents and the broad perspectives of the key informants should function to support each others efforts. This may become the next step toward taking research closer to real-world applications, which, after all, is the heart of issues we have explored."

Future Work: "In round 3 we are taking a close look at strategies employed at two of the institutions surveyed. Cloonan is conducting a case study at WGBH in Boston that is focusing on the development of the Universal Preservation Format (UPF). Sanett is studying the processes for managing and preserving electronic records at the National Archives of Australia."

Michele Cloonan has written about all areas of the preservation field, from conservation treatments to the preservation of digital media. A world-renowned researcher and scholar in preservation, Michele, who is Dean and Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College explains, "Over the years I have tried to address both technical and social aspects of preservation. Right now I'm working on the social aspects, again. I'm working on a book with the working title, Monumental Preservation. A version of chapter 1 appeared in American Libraries in September 2004." (subscription required)

No comments: