Archives-Taking the Long View: Preservation May Not Absolutely Mean the Completed Continuum of the Content's History, but Rather, It Serves as a Compendium of the 'Official' Content Pieces. or Does It?

By Kiefer, Randy S. | Computers in Libraries, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Archives-Taking the Long View: Preservation May Not Absolutely Mean the Completed Continuum of the Content's History, but Rather, It Serves as a Compendium of the 'Official' Content Pieces. or Does It?


Kiefer, Randy S., Computers in Libraries


The underlying driver of all digital preservation is what our activities will look like in 25, 50, or 100 years. This perspective has to be incorporated into long-range business planning, the technology road map, and community governance.

For the past 2 years, I have been immersed in the world of digital preservation by being at the helm of the CLOCKSS Archive. Digital preservation, from our perspective, will be based on an approach that provides for decentralized and distributed preservation (lots of copies keeps stuff safe), preserving the publisher's original authoritative version, and perpetual access to approved released ("triggered") content. These networks must be affordable and sustainable. CLOCKSS will, in its standard harvest process, preserve nearly all web-published content, including supplementary materials, branding, presentation, and all file formats.

Impact of Time on Community Governance

CLOCKSS (Controlled LOCKSS) is a not for-profit joint venture between the world's leading scholarly publishers and research libraries. Their mission is to build a sustainable, geographically distributed dark archive with which to ensure the long-term survival of web-based scholarly publications for the benefit of the greater global research community.

Community governance of the CLOCKSS Archive over the next decades will most likely look much the same as it is does today. Governance is, historically, a slowly evolving mechanism. This steadiness provides a constant that is needed to focus and maintain momentum on the goals of digital preservation. The basic principle of an equal balance of publishers and libraries on the board is our fundamental foundation, which provides for the involvement by the key industry perspectives. Their input, discussions, and decisions craft the policies of the archive to respond to the changing landscape of publishing issues. Although the style and voice of the board will change over time, the focus will always be on the best approach for digital preservation under the existing business conditions. In my first 2 years, most of the changes enacted and encouraged by the board have been refinements to our standard contracts and fees to encourage broader participation.

The business needs of the libraries and those of the publisher are sometimes in conflict. Having the board as a forum for discussion, the balance of power with equal votes and a nearly similar view of their stewardship roles does allow the issues to be addressed in a proactive manner.

One of the most challenging issues is settling on an effective manner in which to expand the global representation to areas such as Brazil, China, Africa, and India. Each geographical region presents different viewpoints on academic content, protection of copyright, strength of the regional internet infrastructure, and central funding models for libraries. The deliberative process of the board has taken up the discussion and is moving toward a consensus on the approach.

The Technology Road Map

"A technology roadmap," according to Wikipedia, "is a plan that matches short-term and long-term goals with specific technology solutions to help meet those goals. It is a plan that applies to a new product or process, or to an emerging technology. Developing a roadmap has three major uses. It helps reach a consensus about a set of needs and the technologies required to satisfy those needs, it provides a mechanism to help forecast technology developments, and it provides a framework to help plan and coordinate technology developments."

While the internet is always evolving, the backward compatibility of browsers has been amazing in its ability to perform and provide a near-perfect presentation of materials to our monitors. The recent introductions of Ajax and HTML5 provide new complexities to the preservation of materials. There will continue to be these types of advancements, which will require a review of underlying applications, such as the LOCKSS software we employ, and coding enhancements to be developed. …

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Archives-Taking the Long View: Preservation May Not Absolutely Mean the Completed Continuum of the Content's History, but Rather, It Serves as a Compendium of the 'Official' Content Pieces. or Does It?
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