Preservation of digital materials in sharp focus
August 2, 2010 Leave a comment
Preservation of digital materials has just come into sharp focus. An email I have just received on the ALA ScholCom list from Charles W. Bailey, well known as a digital scholarly communication expert, announces the deletion of an entire open access journal: The Public Access-Computer Systems Review. This journal ran over 9 years, got 4.2 million file requests and today, the University of Houston Libraries have deleted this open access journal from their website. Gone.
They have also deleted archives of discussion lists, newsletters and more. Gone.
And, significantly for the idea of preservation through laissez-faire duplication, it doesn’t look like anyone ever downloaded the archive of the journal, even though the copyright license allowed it.
So, err, gone.
I do hope that some record for this comes out of the woodwork. The Internet Archive might have done something, but even their records can be partial and often just not there: we cannot outsource responsibilities like that. This is a shocking reminder of the need to formalise preservation and get protective policies in place . . .
Update: 3 hours later – the files have now been restored! Phew! Whatever else it demonstrates a fair degree of fragility: will someone now download and archive the content for a backup outside Houston?