In my quest for information about archiving geospatial data last term, I got my hands on a copy of Marilyn Deegan and Simon Tanner’s Digital Preservation (part of the Digital Futures Series). This excellent volume consists of nine chapters each written by different authors who are leaders in their respective fields (shown in order of their respective chapters):
- David Holdsworth: known for his work on the CEDARS and CAMiLEON projects
- Robin Wendler: metadata analyst at the Harvard University Library Office for Information Studies
- Julien Masanès: co-founder of the European Archive
- Elisa Mason: maintains the Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog
- Brian F. Lavoie: a research scientist at OCLC
- Stephen Chapman: Preservation Librarian for Digital Initiatives in the Weissman Preservation Center, Harvard University Library
- Peter McKinney: research officer for the espida project at the University of Glasgow
- Jasmine Kelly: a former research assistant at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London
Published in 2006, this is one of the most comprehensive and up to date books I found on the subject. The book starts out with two chapters addressing the basic issues related to digital preservation. Subsequent chapters present information about all kinds of metadata, web archiving, the costs of digital preservation and an overview of European approaches. The final chapter presents an extensive series of case studies – complete with URLs to give you plently of information online to explore.
This book gave me a great foundation from which to explore the details of various geospatial data and GIS archiving efforts. For those faced with the challenge of planning for digital preservation, the two chapters on costs should be very useful. So many articles talk about how it will be so expensive to ensure proper digital preservation, but don’t give people in the field any practical advice in planning for the costs – this book is different. The exploration of existing approaches being used at major institutions throughout Europe give a good sense of evolving standards and best practices.
If you are looking for a way to get a handle on the issues involved in digital preservation – this a great starting point. The final chapter on case studies alone could keep you busy for a month as you explore all the websites of projects from around the world. While the book has a decidedly European focus, the concepts are applicable the world over. If you are responsible for ensuring that digital records (either digitized or born digital) are protected and preserved – this book explains the basics and explores various strategies. They don’t oversimplify things – but take the time to explain things well. They are honest about those questions that aren’t answered yet… and they point to as many resources, standards and examples as they can. While Digital Preservation cannot provide a formula for everyone to follow, it can help you start asking the right questions and begin to understand the possibilities.