digital library.jpegPicked this up from a tweet by librarian Sue Polanka of the No Shelf Required blog. It’s an article with the above title from The Chronicle of Higher Education about Marilyn Johnson’s new book This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (HarperCollins, 2010).

The article mentions the problem of preserving digital archives, something I have a great concern about. Here’s an excerpt:

Unfortunately, much of our born-digital era will ultimately be lost to history because it was never recorded in the more stable medium of paper. Librarians can observe problems in physical libraries (such as fragments of yellowed paper around copiers), but media obsolescence and bit-rot can go on undetected until someone needs something digital that can no longer be recovered.

I can’t even open my dissertation documents from 10 years ago; none of my computers includes a floppy drive. … And, of course, for all its promise, Google will remain burdened by the complexities of copyright law for the foreseeable future, meaning that books that are more recent than 1923 are still protected. And what happens if Google goes bankrupt? No business is too big to fail, as we all know now.


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