Monday, November 2, 2009

Digital Preservation: "This is how the world ends, not with a bang but an error message"

NDIIPP Partners Play Major Role at iPRES 2009

October 29, 2009 -- The 2009 International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects was held in San Francisco, CA, October 5 and 6. The California Digital Library, a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program partner, hosted the meeting, which brought together digital-preservation researchers and practitioners from 70 universities and 33 national libraries, as well as a variety of other interested parties.

Martha Anderson, NDIIPP Director of Program Management, gave a keynote address that focused on the growth of the NDIIPP distributed collaborative effort. She announced intent to develop a National Digital Stewardship Alliance with a goal of enabling collaboration across institutional, industrial and state boundaries while encouraging diverse solutions.

The financial cost of digital preservation received particular attention during the conference. A panel session considered the work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access and all the speakers were united on the need for increasing financial incentives and reducing economic risk. They also agreed that digital preservation projects must be well-justified to receive financial support.

In a panel session, Martha Anderson said that Congress understands digital preservation but they have limited resources to allocate. They want to see the immediate impact of their investment rather than promises for results at a distant point in time. Another panelist, Paul Courant, the University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, said that the academic world needed to collaborate in addressing the digital preservation challenge. Anderson echoed the shared-work solution as a practical strategy; later, in another panel session, Anderson called attention to the success of the MetaArchive cooperative, who has distributed stewardship of their content at a relatively low cost.

The panel also suggested that a tax credit or write-off might be an incentive for individuals or corporations to preserve their digital collections. Other sessions during the conference -- such as "Predicting Long Term Preservation Costs" and "Cost Model for Digital Preservation: Cost of Digital Migration" -- also addressed economic sustainability issues.

There were several other presentations about other projects in which the Library is involved: keynote speaker David Kirsch of the University of Maryland talked about preserving the digital records of corporations; Henry Lowood of Stanford University talked about preserving virtual worlds (and included the memorable quote, "This is how the world ends, not with a bang but an error message"); Ardys Kozbial discussed the Chronopolis project and Rebecca Guenther spoke on best practices for expressing preservation metadata.


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