What are Preservation and Conservation Technologies?


As long as there have been museums, their mission has been to preserve and conserve our collective cultural heritage. Preservation refers to the protection of important objects, artifacts, and documents; conservation is the science of maintaining objects in as close to their original form as possible. As technology evolves, archivists and conservators have encountered a steady stream of new challenges in both of these tasks. Digital objects can be as delicate as ancient objects, requiring special care, and changing technologies puts these digital items at great risk. Cultural works that are time-based add a level of complexity in the quest for preservation, due to the added consideration of the artist's intent, or context, or movement. Understanding and preserving how media is intended to be experienced while maintaining the integrity of its cultural identity encompasses a number of a considerations such as conservation ethics, legal agreements, availability of mechanical and/or digital materials, and historical scholarship. While museums have long employed specialists in artifact preservation, today new professionals are needed who understand digital and time-based media, and can address preservation and conservation challenges not only from physical, but artistic, cultural, engineering, electronic, and other multi-disciplinary perspectives.


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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • - wlougee wlougee Oct 25, 2016 digital preservation systems to ensure enduring access to unique collections, research data
  • AV preservation and the preservation of complex digital objects (i.e. data) is still a challenge, yet libraries are engaged with the production and stewardship of these items in ever increasing quantities. - shorisyl shorisyl Oct 27, 2016- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 11, 2016
  • academic and research libraries are collecting "born-digital" material, such as the archives of a modern writer or statesperson. Moreover, the need to digitize A/V and other physical mediums that are becoming obsolete requires us to build up our expertise on digital preservation.
  • Preservation technologies for born digital materials are integral to the archival function of academic and research libraries.
  • Researchers leave a lot of digital traces on the internet. Web archiving policy, technology and processes are important to collect, archive, preserve and give access to academic digital heritage. - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 8, 2016
  • Our analog and digital media collections are at much greater risk than our physical paper collections and the volume is not insignificant. If we truly intend to preserve the past 60 years of media content, as well as the born digital collection of today forward, we must get a handle on these technologies. - anthony.helm anthony.helm Nov 13, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - wlougee wlougee Oct 25, 2016 Considerations of appraisal of content for preservation; particularly important with research data curation. +1 - shorisyl shorisyl Oct 27, 2016
  • Preservation and conservation of physical objects can be expensive: time, expertise, labor. Digital preservation is also expensive: systems, expertise, labor. When digital surrogates are created, how is the preservation of both objects (analog and digital) prioritized? - shorisyl shorisyl Oct 27, 2016- lchabot lchabot Oct 31, 2016- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 11, 2016- anthony.helm anthony.helm Nov 13, 2016
  • How to store and provide access to born-digital content that is sold via audio/video download or pdf format - lchabot lchabot Oct 31, 2016
  • Are questions of cultural sensitivities being brought to the digital conversation? - shorisyl shorisyl Oct 27, 2016- lchabot lchabot Oct 31, 2016 - vacekrae vacekrae Nov 12, 2016
  • while there are established best practices regarding preservation and conservation of physical objects, based in science, we do not yet have a science for digital preservation.
  • A lot of libraries don't have a policy for the preservation of their digital collections. Before technology and processess can be used in an appropriate manner there needs to be a clear policy about what to preserve. - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 8, 2016
  • There is a lot of activity regarding digital preservation. There are best practices, toolkits, policies and certification tracks. Most of these activities are driven by the research data communities and cultural heritage communities. Libraries could be more involved in these kind of activities because long term access to digital objects, trust and integrity are key values for libraries. - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 9, 2016- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 11, 2016
  • As our personal and social lives become increasingly digital, the importance of preserving personal digital content grows. There's an increase in teaching librarians (and thus our users) about personal digital archiving, and to think about working with community organizations focused on gathering oral histories or other local collections, those preserving familial material, activist groups, hobbyists, and academic and public librarians and archivists. - vacekrae vacekrae Nov 12, 2016
  • The challenges for born-digital preservation are by no means insignificant, as it is often necessary to preserve not just the content, but often the digital tools (software) used to create the content as well as the operating system environment that allows the software to run.- anthony.helm anthony.helm Nov 13, 2016
  • Digital Preservation - While some aspects of digital preservation are covered by research data management and other topics, this is a long-term need that libraries have only been seriously addressing in the last few years. See the RADD project (https://www.library.wisc.edu/slis/services/radd/), created by Dorothea Salo, for an example of how this could be addressed by libraries.- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 10, 2016 Born digital academic heritage is not covered by research data management and heritage preservation coalition initiatives. - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 13, 2016 [Editor's Note: This discussion was added here from RQ3.]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • - wlougee wlougee Oct 25, 2016 has potential to share expertise and infrastructure with others on campus ; digital preservations systems can cover other campus content.
  • If properly implemented and sustained, can help the library to be a comprehensive steward for the output of a community. This can also help reshape the libraries image away from a book-based holding place to a material-agnostic information & knowledge creation facilitator - shorisyl shorisyl Oct 27, 2016- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 11, 2016
  • opportunities to libraries to establish digital preservation expertise on campus, for use of the whole university.
  • Libraries can play a significant role in the preservation of all scholarly results and academic heritage which has to be accessible for a longer period. Faculties already ask libraries to play a role in preservation of research data. Expertise and skills to preserve and give access to research data can be easily used for the preservation of academic heritage. For example web-arching and e-mail archiving. At the moment most libraries lack the technical skills to engage in preservation activities. - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 9, 2016
  • This is an expensive and challenging (but very solvable) problem. Libraries absolutely have to start putting more resources to this area, and quickly, before obsolete media is lost. Thus they may have to reallocate resources and people from other traditional areas.- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 11, 2016- vacekrae vacekrae Nov 12, 2016
  • - liusq liusq Nov 12, 2016Digital preservation is increasingly becoming the important part work of libraries.
  • As is often the case, we are working to build the repositories that future generations of academics will rely on for research. The better job we do with these technologies, the more likely we are are also ensuring our value in years to come.- anthony.helm anthony.helm Nov 13, 2016
  • Digital preservation - Long term digital preservation of collections and user created content (eg. comments on blogs) present huge challenges to libraries. So much public discourse takes place in these online spaces and researchers and historians will need access to the "whole" conversation. - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph Nov 10, 2016
    • I'm glad you scoped this to the need to discuss this with historians and other researchers, since digital preservation is, in a technical sense, a solved or at least solvable problem these days. Narrower the scope even a bit further, I think we are about to enter a critical phase related to the concept of 'presentism' in history, i.e.- the notion that one cannot 'do' history on current events, but that a certain period of time must pass before it becomes a research-worthy topic. We are now entering a phase where even under this notion, the early Web are now qualifies for historical study, but historians are going to have serious issues accessing the record of that time since so much was online and ephemeral. Web archiving is a challenge--not technical, for the most part--that we are just beginning to address seriously in libraries. - askeyd askeyd Nov 11, 2016 - rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Nov 13, 2016- vacekrae vacekrae Nov 13, 2016
    • Libraries have over hundreds years of experience in acquiring, cataloguing and making available archives of university professors, correspondence, lecture notes, dissertations, etcetera, mostly written and printed on paper. The digital turn however, forces us to rethink our strategies, not only to meet our longstanding obligations to the research community but also to venture into new possibilities for collaboration. The preservation of academic heritage is nog only related to research information, publications and research data. It is also about websites, e-mails and social media.In order to adequately cope with this born digital material, we need to formulate policy, create an infrastructure and offer training and support. A difficult challenge - Laurents.Sesink Laurents.Sesink Nov 13, 2016
    • - liusq liusq Nov 13, 2016Digital preservation of print collections have been concerend for a while, Other network-based resources should be considered too, but it is hard to decide dimensions of preservation because network-based resources are too many. [Editors' Note: This discussion was added here from RQ4.]

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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