[Preserving Web sites (fwd)]

I thought this item from the Archives list was interesting.  I missed
the New York Times article to which it refers.  Marjorie Barritt

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 12:52:26 -0500 (EST)
From: "Karen L. Jania" <kljania@umich.edu>
Subject: Preserving Web sites (fwd)
To: bald@umich.edu

Karen L. Jania				         E-mail: kljania@sils.umich.edu
Reference Assistant, Bentley Historical Library      Phone: (313)
1150 Beal Ave., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Graduate Student, School of Information and Library Studies, U of M

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 12:42:07 -0500
To: Multiple recipients of list ARCHIVES
Subject: Preserving Web sites

---------------------- Information from the mail header
Sender:       Archives & Archivists <ARCHIVES@MIAMIU.ACS.MUOHIO.EDU>
Poster:       Rob Spindler <IACRPS@ASUACAD.BITNET>
Subject:      Preserving Web sites

An interesting thread we should all be thinking about. In many ways the
problems are the same we've encountered for years now, hardware
(including many obsolete AV formats), software obsolescence, physical
degradation of the media...Now we're beginning to hear computing
addressing the issue - perhaps this will lead to the establishment of
encoding standards? Software emulators a la Rothenberg? Media

The real long term answer to this is application of the functional
recordkeeping requirements that have been in development at the
University of
Pittsburgh by Cox, Bearman and others. These requirements could be built
future systems and established in accordance with the encoding
emulators and media standards I mentioned above. However, these
standards will
probably have to be developed by the software and hardware industries,
they're not likely to embark upon an expensive standards/media
projects unless the consumers demand it. There has to be a market for

In the meantime, what do we do? Do we ignore the 20-30 years of our
currently residing in hundreds of software and hardware dependent
formats. Do
we attempt to maintain hundreds of software and operating system
packages used
by records creators everywhere? Do we store the data in the hope that
the software emulators will be created to recover the data in a useable
(hopefully without corrupting it)....Do we establish a post-custodial
tradition of electronic archives whereby we monitor the maintenance and
to non-current data retained by the originating offices (relieving
from some of the need to learn all this software/OS stuff....) and
virtual reference through the internet (i.e. direct patrons to the URL
connects to the X Office archival server and help them use that system
refer them to a local expert...)

I dunno...But in the meantime, I would suggest that people should not
original archival information on a web site or any other electronic
unless they're prepared to take steps to maintain that information,
migrate it
when necessary, and clean the data after migration if it is corrupted in
process....Archives means COMMITMENT for the long haul.

The other thing that stood out about the NYT article that Rand posted
Rand!) was the reference to historians and their knowledge of obsolete
formats. EXCUSE ME, but archivists and preservation professionals are
experts on this topic. Once again the NYT has missed the boat about
and archivists...Would somebody pleeese write a letter to the
editor...Then we
can all ARCHIVE it in our fancy information systems until they get
upgraded to
the next incompatible release.....

my 3 cents....I'll calm down now...

Rob Spindler, Archives & Manuscripts, Arizona State      {|}
University Libraries (602) 965-3145  FAX: 965-9169       _|
BITNET: iacrps@ASUACAD                                  ( o )
INTERNET: iacrps@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU                     (_-_)