Digital preservation meeting minutes in Berkeley

Quoted from NDIIPP January 2006 meeting in Berkeley. NDIIPP is US government Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

Paul Courant, professor of economics and public policy and former provost of the University of Michigan, followed Fenton with a stimulating discussion of a topic that was of paramount concern to all present: how to ensure the economic sustainability of a digital preservation program.

You’re expecting me to be not an economist but a magician who can solve all your problems,” he began. The audience demonstrated its agreement with a round of laughter. “Your instincts that markets aren’t good at solving problems are tragically correct. But our cultural heritage is at stake.

Courant also reminded listeners that any arrangements made for digital preservation “are not simply about money. Value is hard to assess, and there is a conflict of interests for that money. Even before the digital age, libraries were facing acquisitions budget pressures.

The ease with which digital materials can be delivered makes access faster, while at the same time the ease with which digital materials can be produced — and subsequently lost, altered or used in a manner that violates copyright law — means that “access to our cultural heritage used to be less difficult.”

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