Practical Digital Preservation: A How-to Guide for Organizations of Any Size

Isabel Schellnack-Kelly (Lecturer, University of South Africa, South Africa)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 3 November 2014




Isabel Schellnack-Kelly (2014), "Practical Digital Preservation: A How-to Guide for Organizations of Any Size", The Electronic Library, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 924-925.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Brown provides a comprehensive analysis concerning digital preservation pertaining to professionals involved with the collection, management preservation and ensuring access to digital objects. The publication provides insights to entities investigating or contemplating digitization projects. It furthermore should equip students in the related library and information management fields. Archivists, records managers and curators will find correlations concerning associated developments and challenges regarding the preservation of digital objects. The inclusion of case studies provides insight to the implementation, selection, acquisition, accession, description, preservation and provision of such endeavours.

The book consists of ten chapters. The first chapter provides an overview of the general assumptions that such projects are only contemplated by large organizations, with large budgets and “deep technical knowledge” (p. 5). It also traces historical developments of digital preservation from the 1960s when the first “data archives was established” (p. 9). Developing an all-encompassing business case that meets the requisites and specifications of prospective digitization projects is addressed in Chapter 2.

Chapters 3 to Chapter 9 of the publication address implementing; selecting and acquiring; accessioning and ingesting; describing; preserving; and providing user access to digital objects. Inclusive case studies depict and provide clarity on associated processes and risks. One such study was conducted by the Greater Manchester Archivists Group that examined the challenges related to “archiving websites” (p. 95) of 15 local governments. The study’s recommendations advocated for the use of a user-friendly, yet cost-effective web archiving tool. Meanwhile, a study involving The Wellcome Library relates to a “programme to digitize substantial proportions of its analogue collections” (p. 150). The digital project also included the capturing, management and preservation of digital and born-digital objects provided from external benefactors. Included in the case study are accessioning and ingesting this institution’s digital objects and users’ access of a digital delivery system (p. 267).

The publication provides a poor account of the lack of “ubiquitous digital infrastructure” (p. 288) in the developing world, particularly Africa. The International Records Management Trust is credited for working with governments on promoting recordkeeping and records management. The Eastern and Southern African Management Institute’s Centre of Excellence for the Management of Electronic Records is mentioned with capacity-building concerning digital preservation in Tanzania. A more recent, comprehensive digital preservation case study on the African continent should include the Digital Archives of the African National Congress, undertaken by a South African company called African Media Online.

Overall, Brown’s publication provides a comprehensive tool for librarians, archivists, records managers, curators and scholars concerning the underlying aspects relating to digital preservation in the library and information science fields and archival collections.

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