D-Lib Magazine
May 2002

Volume 8 Number 5

ISSN 1082-9873


Digital Preservation A Long Journey

On April 25, I attended a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) workshop, "Institute on the State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective". I came away from the workshop with the impression that the presenters believe—as do I—that research involving digital preservation is extremely complex and presents enormous problems, but it is important to make a start.

Internationally, a great number of digital preservation projects are already underway. These projects face numerous, significant challenges, not the least of which is obtaining adequate funding. This, in addition to other factors, has encouraged the formation of partnerships among institutions and organizations to share resources and knowledge. Collaborative projects help leverage available funding as well as enable the sharing of lessons learned.

One such collaboration involves the Library of Congress (LC): the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). In her presentation at the CLIR Institute, Laura Campbell, Director, National Digital Library Program at LC, pointed out that, while there is broad consensus on the urgency of the problem of how to preserve digital materials, and agreement on the need for solutions to be distributed and decentralized, there are still a number of unresolved issues, such as legal issues (intellectual property rights, liability), scope (what to preserve, by whom and at what level), balance between preservation and access, and economic issues, among others.

Add a bewildering array of technical issues to these legal, social, and economic challenges, mix in the difficulty of evaluating success without access to time travel, and one could be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed The only solution to such a situation is the one that is now underway, and that is to get started and to remember that even the longest journey begins with a single step.

Bonita Wilson

Copyright© 2002 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/may2002-editorial