The amount of information in our digital universe is expected to double in size every 18 months, according to a recent report – so how do universities choose which of these new information bits to keep and which to discard?
Increasingly, university managers and researchers are looking to justify the cost of preservation alongside other technical and legal issues. Now a new international task force funded by Jisc and other organisations is highlighting examples of current practice in the UK, America and Europe to look at business cases for long term preservation and access.
Neil Grindley, programme manager at Jisc, said, “This report takes a clearheaded and hard look at some of the ideas surrounding preservation asking questions like ‘why are we preserving this?’ By highlighting the economic aspects of these decisions colleges and universities should be better able to prioritise which information to keep and create a more secure legacy.”
The Blue Ribbon task force considers a ‘supply and demand’ view of how individuals and organisations might manage their digital collections.
The study argues that there should be incentives for people to preserve information in the public interest, perhaps to keep a digital fingerprint of a precious manuscript or observational weather data from a scientific centre now closed.
Any preservation plan must also look ahead to ensure the digital lifecycle has enough resources to keep it going, and needs to take account of key stakeholders to make sure the lifecycle is supported.
This support might come from a public-private partnership, or from experts like legal and business specialists, who are able to form links in a secure chain which extends into the future.
“Addressing the issues of value, incentives, and roles and responsibilities helps us understand who benefits from long-term access to digital materials, who should be responsible for preservation, and who should pay for it,” said Brian Lavoie, research scientist at OCLC Online Computer Library Center and task force co-chair. “Neglecting to account for any of these conditions significantly reduces the prospects of achieving sustainable digital preservation activities over the long run.”
A number of organisations have been responsible for the report - Jisc in the UK alongside US partners, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Library of Congress, OCLC and the San Diego Supercomputer Centre.
Join Jisc for a free one day symposium in London on 6 May 2010 where the Blue Ribbon task force will be presenting their final report alongside responses from the BBC, the Natural History Museum, the British Library, European Bioinformatics Institute and the European Commission.
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