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Brian Schottlaender Takes Ecosystem View of Digital Preservation

Brian E. C. Schottlaender

The latest issue of Library Resources & Technical Services features a guest editorial by Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel university librarian at University of California, San Diego, and an ARL Board member. In “The Digital Preservation Imperative: An Ecosystem View,” Schottlaender highlights the increasingly urgent need to preserve the digital record as more and more scholarly, cultural, and governmental information is produced in digital form.

Schottlaender observes that digital assets are more fragile than their analog counterparts, mainly because they are more dynamic, noting that “[t]he most immediate and significant consequence of the dynamic nature of digital information resources is that their preservation calls for a much more active process than that required for analog resources.”

He also notes that digital resources are more complex than analog materials, and states,

this combination of prolificacy, fragility, and complexity calls for an ecosystem approach to digital preservation, and to digital stewardship, in general. This approach includes three essential elements: access, management, and preservation. Curators tend to view this ecosystem as a cycle, whereas technologists see it more as a stack. Regardless of how one views it, the components are by and large the same.

In conclusion he highlights several examples of current entities in this ecosystem, such as the California Digital Library, DSpace, HathiTrust, and the “newest player to emerge”—the Digital Preservation Network (DPN).

“The Digital Preservation Imperative: An Ecosystem View” is available online to Library Resources & Technical Services subscribers and Association for Library Collections Technical Services members.