Digital Archiving for Schools and Libraries

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As a growing number of schools and libraries worldwide search for answers on how to store, preserve, and maintain digital materials, computing technology developer Sun Microsystems announces the formation of a global special interest working group to share best practices for digital archiving.

Schools and libraries have a growing number of digital materials to archive, but how can they get started on such a project? How will they store and preserve materials in digital format, and how will they grant the appropriate levels of access to their stakeholders? These are just some of the questions that pose significant challenges for schools–and now a new effort from Sun Microsystems might be able to help.

Sun has announced the formation of the Sun Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) to share best practices for digital archiving. The Sun PASIG will bring together global leaders in government, broadcasting, education, and library services, with the goal of supporting organizations challenged with preserving and archiving important research and cultural heritage materials in electronic format. “There is a large and growing need to preserve scientific, historic, and cultural heritage materials for sharing, and also just to keep for future generations,” said Art Pasquinelli, education market strategist for Sun’s Global Education and Research division.

Schools and libraries not only must consider how they will digitize materials in their print collections, but they also must consider how they will maintain items in digital format. “Much ‘born digital’ information is at risk of just being lost or going through ‘bit rot’ if it isn’t maintained regularly,” Pasquinelli explained.

Schools and libraries have much to learn and gain from the new interest group, he said. Some challenges that organizations face as they approach digital archiving include clearly defining their goals, determining their technical capabilities, and figuring out how to get started. “Figuring out who is actually doing what in this field is also key,” Pasquinelli said. Many companies and open-development communities are just now creating solutions to meet the needs of organizations, he added.

Schools and libraries should ask several key questions as they approach digital storage and preservation, Pasquinelli said. These include: What are your goals, and how do you intend to use the content you’re looking to archive? Who will be using this content? And, are there any areas where you can apply the experiences of other organizations, companies, and the open-source development community? Continue reading

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