Needs and purposes of Digital Archives
Digitization may also be taken as a visible proposition to enhance the shelf life of printed information by preservation apart from the virtue of increased and easy access. In the digital form, since users can make any number of copies and only these copies of the materials are being used, at one point of time, there exist fair chances of at latest one electronic copy to be available on the network for use by posterity. This may also be viewed as inherent problems and essential challenges in the task of digital archiving and preservation.
‘Task Force on Archiving of digital information’ by Commission on Preservation and Access and Research Libraries Group suggested the following:
- Equipment and software required to read and understand information in digital form is changing constantly and may not be available within a decade of its introduction.
- Cannot save the machines if there are no spare parts available, and cannot save the software if no one is left who knows how to use it.
- Can lose our heritage in electronic form when the custodian makes no planes for long term retention in a changing technical environment.
- To effectively preserve the rapidly expanding corpus of information in digital form, we need to understand the cost and need to commit ourselves technically, legally, economically and organizationally.
- Digital media can be fragile and have limited shelf life even under the best storage conditions. Given the rates of technological change, even the most fragile media may well outlive the continued availability of their readers.
- Legal and Organizational Issues involve a complex set of interested parties, including the creators and owners of intellectual property, managers of digital archives, representatives of the public interest, and actual and potential users.
- Digital archives need a high level of systems engineering skill to manage the interlocking requirements of media, data formats, and hardware and software.
Beagrie and Greenstein propose the following points:
- Unlike the printed world, digital information cannot be understood without the technical data stored with it, which is normally concealed from the user and needs to be preserved and migrated with the content.
- With the current rapid changes and evolution in hardware and software, digital information needs active management form its inception if it is to survive and be kept accessible across different technological regimes.
- The magnetic and optical media on which digital information is stored are impermanent and cannot be relied upon for preservation of their contents for more than a few years or decades.
- Digital data has allowed the development of new types of information: dynamic resources which are constantly changed and updated, highly contingent on their hardware and software environments for the nature of the experience they create.
- The provenance and context of digital information Is not transparent and easily understood by the user and this needs to be explicitly captured and documented.
- The fixty and authenticity of digital information is an issued due to the ease with which digital information can be copied and amended.
- The rights and terms attached (license) to a digital object when it is created or acquired may fundamentally control how or whether a repository can preserve it or make it accessible to future users.
- The substantial volume and rate of growth of digital information places an increased importance on creating resources which are fit for purpose and cost-effective over their full life cycle.