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Re: archiving thoughts

This past fall the library convened a group of faculty members and
librarians to begin a discussion of issues surrounding the long term
retention of digital information.  Faculty researchers are increasingly
generating all varieties of digital information as by-products of their
research and as part of their teaching methodologies...and they have begun
to want to talk about how the campus should address the need for long term
access to this information.

I chaired this task force and invited faculty members who had created
large volumes of data as part of their work and had intended to "write up"
the discussions (after 6 meetings) and file a report.  However, during the
course of our meetings it became clear that the faculty members had a
range of concerns that they wanted the campus to address - and they wanted
a standing committee that would deal with issues pertaining to long term
retention of digital information.

So, I am in the process of writing the report for this task force - but
instead of just filing it away and dealing with issues as possible I am
writing a series of recommendations for the provost to consider - the
first of which is to establish a committee whose charge is to make
recommendations on how best to handle our (UT Austin's) locally created,
digital intellectual property. There is a clear need to engage faculty
members in these conversations and let them tell us what they need from us

There is much to discover as we move toward new models of publishing the
scholarly record.

Mark McFarland
Digital Library Services
Univ. of Texas at Austin


> To me there is very little difference among the scenarios the Kimberly
> Parker lists. The real problem is the technical one -- keeping the
> material accessible by the current browsers (or tools). But, let's
> blithely assume that this will be done -- although I am sure we will lose
> a lot of material before we realize what it takes to plan for really long
> term preservation and access in the electronic world.
> One statement is a problem -- and will be for most publishers She assumes
> that most material will eventually be available in the public domain --
> which implies that everyone can make whatever use of the material that
> they wish. This will not happen before the copyright runs out.
> However, and maybe this is what Kimberly meant to say, access to most
> material probably will (and should) be made available for free, but the
> publisher will certainly want to retain the copyright -- if only to make
> different versions and derivative works.
> The rest of the scenario makes reasonable sense. For academic material (in
> the sciences), only the latest information will serve the researcher. So
> the incentive to purchase the latest version is a strong one. Making the
> older material available for free (but not for commercial re-use) serves
> as advertising for the latest edition. It makes great sense for publisher
> to do that.
> Whether the material is in serial form, or integrated edition form (which
> we will soon get away from in the interconnected Web world), or the loose
> leaf form (which will come to dominate in the Web world) is relatively
> unimportant. The driving force is that the latest edition is important to
> have.
> But, this discussion bothers me because it is based on treating the
> electronic material as if it were simple static information on paper. The
> real evolution will be away from simple words on paper (or on the screen)
> and into interactive information, live math, equations into which a user
> can plug her data, 3-D visions with which the user can interact, up to the
> minute databases of small chunks of information which are assembled upon
> request for each user from the latest information from a whole variety of
> Web sources -- information not just from one publisher, but from many
> sources.
> This is the world we should be preparing for -- and it is a lot harder to
> understand what to do. But, let's not take up too much time discussing how
> to handle a situation which will not be relevant in five years.
> _________________________________________________________
> Peter B. Boyce    -   Senior Consultant for Electronic Publishing, AAS
> email: pboyce@aas.org
> Summer address:                                Winter: 4109 Emery Place,
> 33 York St., Nantucket, MA 02554        Washington, DC 20016
> Phone:  508-228-9062                           202-244-2473
> _________________________________________________________