Long Term Preservation of Digital Record
Long term preservation of digital records
On 13rd of November 2007 12 members met at the table B of CITRA at Quebec.
We started the discussion by introducing ourselves and respective condition of digitization in each country/ institution. Some wanted to know from the very beginning of digitization, another was wondering about how to provide access to the collections under the custody. Several members introduced their own experience in digitization practice.
From our discussion we found there are diversity in condition to cope with digitizing records.
On one hand there is a case that the discussion of digitization has just begun, on the other hand there are some cases that have experiences.
Digitization projects are discussed and launched everywhere, and the levels are diverse. There are many reasons such as political, economical, and technical. Also diversity came from the type of the archival institutions, such as government, university, or international organizations.
It was clear that there is not a single solution for long term preservation of digital records yet, but some experiences were reported form international organizations (namely Council of Europe and GSU).
Archivists in various types of institutions should work together and try to exchange information and experiences in this regard.
In particular we, as archivists, should define "long term" NOT as five years but CENTURIES to tell our professional need of long term preservation.
On 14th of November the group met again. This time there were 1 Gambia, 2 Kenya, 1 Germany, 1 Slovenia, 1 Austria, 1 GSU, 1 Botswana, and 2 Japan, altogether 10 members. Among these ten members two were new comers.
Based on the discussions yesterday, we tried to find out merits and demerits of digitization to prepare our resolution. There were many talks about not only digitization but daily management of the archives. Some archives charges entrance fees for the users and/or visitors as well as photocopies or CDs. A case was reported that fee for publication permission depends on how many copies would be issued. Another case was reported that heavy users in the reading room need to pay more than ordinary users or simple visitors. It seems that a standard of reading room rules/regulations needs to be developed.
Variety of cases were reported and finally we came back to find out resolutions of our discussion. It is agreed to point out the merits and risks of digitization.
There are risks on the following points:
1. Different definitions of long term between 5-10 years in the IT community and centuries in our archival community.
2. Commercial market supplies media and devices of digital records. Kodak stopped producing microfilms because of their commercial reason.
3. Shortage of electricity occurs everywhere, and it stops computers.
Merits are found on the points of user-friendly access such as simultaneous access, wide-spread access, 24 hours access, and time saving in retrieval. Also it is pointed out that digitization will protect from too frequent handling of originals.