portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.4 (2003) 688-689
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The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective. (CLIR Reports, no. 107) Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2002. 102 p. $20. Full text (PDF and HTML) available online <http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/reports.html> (ISBN 1-887334-92-0).
The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective is a collection of seven papers presented at a symposium held April 24-25, 2002. The symposium, organized by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with funding from Documentation Abstracts, Inc., included presenters from the United States, [End Page 688] the Netherlands, and Australia, who described current practices and challenges in digital preservation. The volume also features an introduction by Deanna Marcum, president of CLIR.
This publication can be considered a follow-up to CLIR's 1996 landmark report, Preserving Digital Information by John Garrett and Donald Waters. The Garrett and Waters report has been highly influential and has shaped much of the discussion of digital preservation since its publication. Though the current volume does not break new ground in the same way, it still is an important contribution to the literature.
The State of Digital Preservation begins with two overview articles. Kenneth Thibodeau, director of the Electronic Records Archives Program at the National Archives and Records Administration, presents an excellent summary of technological approaches to digital preservation. Thibodeau's article will be useful to a broad range of librarians and archivists, especially those new to the field of digital preservation. The second overview article, a very brief one by Margaret Hedstrom of the University of Michigan, presents a framework for future research. This article will be of most value to those already involved in digital preservation research initiatives.
The rest of the volume largely consists of progress reports on various projects testing approaches to preserving digital information. Meg Bellinger reports on four aspects of the Online Computer Library Center's (OCLC's) current activities in digital preservation. Laura Campbell summarizes work on the National Digital Infrastructure Initiative at the Library of Congress. Titia van der Werf describes initiatives at the National Library of the Netherlands. Colin Webb shares lessons from the National Library of Australia, which has been particularly active in preserving Web content. Finally, Donald Waters, program officer for scholarly communication at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, reports on the task of archiving scholarly e-journals.
This volume does an excellent job of achieving its purpose—summarizing some of the major large-scale international initiatives in digital preservation. As with much of the literature, however, it fails to address the situation faced by small and medium-sized institutions. Perhaps CLIR could assemble a conference to address digital preservation for smaller institutions that will have to face the challenge largely without external grant resources.
Digital preservation is a fast-moving topic of concern to librarians and archivists worldwide. By making these conference proceedings available so quickly, CLIR has performed a valuable service for the information professions. The State of Digital Preservation is a volume worth acquiring for the latest insights into this important topic.
Long Island University