To read this content please select one of the options below:

Preparing for the age of the digital palimpsest

Jason Bengtson (Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 31 August 2012




The purpose of this paper is to define and stimulate interest in a potential new specialty within the information science field.


Sources on digital forensics and digital archeology are discussed, and the topic is examined critically from a librarian perspective. The author examines the possibility of an information science specialty pursuing the reconstruction of “digital palimpsests”, where data that later becomes historically significant has been deleted or partially overwritten on digital media.


The author identifies at least one key incident (the NASA moon landing tapes) where this potential field has already started to be defined. Examination of the literature indicates that emphasis in data recovery to this point has centered on the needs of law enforcement and disaster recovery rather than on the considerations of manuscript preservation, recovery, and curation. The author emphasizes the need for librarians to bring together the skills of multiple fields, especially that of information technology, in order to shape the tools needed to take the lead in “digital palimpsest” recovery.


The author asserts that the recovery of “digital palimpsests” will become important as digital archives age and society's position on what has historical value inevitably shifts. The author further asserts that members of the information science field must actively work to take ownership of the field before it is subsumed by information technology or another discipline less equipped to manage its nebulous considerations effectively.



Bengtson, J. (2012), "Preparing for the age of the digital palimpsest", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 513-522.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles