British Library to Archive E-Mails
Swartz, Nikki, Information Management
The British Library has started archiving e-mails and electronic data. In addition to the millions of books and paper documents the library now holds, digital documents will soon begin making their way into the library's storage, including everything from scientific thoughts to authors' musings.
According to Jeremy John, the British Library's curator of digital documents, the digital archive will initially be available via a stand-alone computer in one of the library's reading rooms. John said he hoped the public will eventually be able to access the documents over a network.
The British Library has procedures to check the authenticity of the digital archive and has measures in place to prevent the documents from becoming corrupted. Multiple copies of the files are made in various formats and different batches of CDs are used to further prevent corruption. The library also uses file compression technology to yield unique identifiers and "rigorous audit trails" that record what happens to the files over the decades.
John sees a move toward more electronic archiving, adding that he expects the British Library to catalogue instant-messaging conversations in the future. …