Durable Digital Objects Rather Than Digital Preservation
is a provocative article that indicts research and repository librarians for not being aware of the scale of the problem and for not paying attention to existing research in other fields.
Abstract: Long-term digital preservation is not the best available objective. Instead, what information
producers and consumers almost surely want is a universe of durable digital objects—documents and
programs that will be as accessible and useful a century from now as they are today.
Given the will, we could implement and deploy a practical and pleasing durability infrastructure within two years. Tools for daily work can embed packaging for durability without much burdening their users.
Moving responsibility for durability from archival employees to information producers would also avoid
burdening repositories with keeping up with Internet scale. An engineering prescription is available.
Research libraries’ and archives’ slow advance towards practical preservation of digital content is
remarkable to outsiders. Why does their progress seem stalled? Ineffective collaboration across
disciplinary boundaries has surely been a major impediment. We speculate about cultural reasons for
this situation and warn about possible marginalization of research librarianship as a profession.