Astle and Muir (2002)
|Astle and Muir (2002)
|Digitization and preservation in public libraries and archives.
|Astle, P., Muir, A.
|Astle, P.J. and Muir, A., 2002. Digitization and preservation in public libraries and archives. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 34(2), pp.67-79.
|Definitive , Open Access
|Key Related Studies:
|About the Data
|The study takes data from 24 cultural heritage institutions.
|Secondary Data Sources:
|Data Collection Methods:
|Data Analysis Methods:
|Cross Country Study?:
|Government or policy study?:
|Time Period(s) of Collection:
This article examines the relationship between access and preservation in digitization projects conducted by public libraries and archives in the UK. The main issues discussed are the impact of selection on access, the preservation of original material and digital objects, and the financial issues surrounding digitization projects. The article does not deal with the technical aspects of digitization. A questionnaire survey was conducted of 20 UK public libraries and archives to determine their experiences related to the above issues. It was found that few digitization projects realized their full potential in terms of preserving original material, and so little has been done to ensure the preservation of the digitized material. Although access is significantly increased, the range of material that has been digitized is very narrow and is driven largely by copyright restrictions rather than user demand. The survey also highlighted the disparity between funding for access to a very small portion of library holdings through digitization, and the funding of traditional preservation for the remainder of collections.
Main Results of the Study
The opinion amongst those surveyed is very much that funding sources for digitization and for preservation are distinctly separate, and therefore one does not affect the other.However comments made by the respondents verified that tensions do exist over the levels of funding available for each activity. The survey highlighted just how little is spent onpreservation in many libraries and archives and that typically preservation needs are seen as much larger than budgets can cater for.Although the data on financial issues was far from comprehensive, this in itself tends to indicate a general lack of awareness concerning project costs. However, having allowed for the incomplete nature of the data, two points are tentatively made. The impact of major grantfunding has been to virtually halt digitization projects in public libraries and archives during the last two years, and the majority of digitization projects have generated no significantrevenue.The widespread promotion of preservation (after access) as a major benefit following digitization does not appear to be widely supported by the subsequent actions in public libraries and archives. The two ways in which digitization is said to improve preservation, a fall in demandto see original material and the imposition of access restrictions, have not been universally seen or adopted.The level of awareness that libraries and archives in general have concerning the problems of digital preservation, must have risen to some degree given their exposure to the standards in the nof-digitise programme. However, libraries and archives have been slow to adopt preservationpolicies and none of those surveyed include digitization in their policy.There is also a distinct lack of urgency in considering migration as a strategy for digital preservation. The comments of respondents indicated that this was more likely to be an issue for the IT department to consider, although the majority of libraries and archives claimed sole responsibility for the preservation of digital master files.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Digitization projects are complex and need to be managed carefully to ensure resources are not wasted. Libraries and archives must budget for the whole life cycle of the digitization process and not just for image capture.The survey has shown that following digitization, demand for access to original material does not necessarilydecline. Libraries and archives should consider automatically placing restrictions on access to original materials where appropriate. This would improve preservation at little cost to the beleaguered budgets identified by many respondents, and would be consistent with using preservation as a selection criterion.Until a formal preservation policy is in place, any attempt to raise significant funding for preservation activities is unlikely to succeed. Having a preservation policy is now a common requisite for the consideration of applications by funding bodies.Digitization should be included in that policy, even if no projects are currently planned. It will help increase awareness of digital preservation issues and will highlight the preservation aspects of digitization, rather than those that exclusively concern access.Research is needed into how strategies for acquiring and preserving digital material can be developed specifically for the public library sector as a whole. Without this it is likely that strategy development will be slow and unco-ordinated.There is also a need for research into robust models of the costs of digitization that take into account preservation issues.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:
|Cultural Heritage Institutions
|Period of material under study: