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The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation

Trevor Owens

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A guide to managing data in the digital age.

Winner of the ALCTS Outstanding Publication Award of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, Winner of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists

Many people believe that what is on the Internet will be around forever. At the same time, warnings of an impending "digital dark age"—where records of the recent past become completely lost or inaccessible—appear with regular frequency in the popular press. It's as if we need a system to safeguard our digital records for future scholars and researchers…

A guide to managing data in the digital age.

Winner of the ALCTS Outstanding Publication Award of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, Winner of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists

Many people believe that what is on the Internet will be around forever. At the same time, warnings of an impending "digital dark age"—where records of the recent past become completely lost or inaccessible—appear with regular frequency in the popular press. It's as if we need a system to safeguard our digital records for future scholars and researchers. Digital preservation experts, however, suggest that this is an illusory dream not worth chasing. Ensuring long-term access to digital information is not that straightforward; it is a complex issue with a significant ethical dimension. It is a vocation.

In The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, librarian Trevor Owens establishes a baseline for practice in this field. In the first section of the book, Owens synthesizes work on the history of preservation in a range of areas (archives, manuscripts, recorded sound, etc.) and sets that history in dialogue with work in new media studies, platform studies, and media archeology. In later chapters, Owens builds from this theoretical framework and maps out a more deliberate and intentional approach to digital preservation.

A basic introduction to the issues and practices of digital preservation, the book is anchored in an understanding of the traditions of preservation and the nature of digital objects and media. Based on extensive reading, research, and writing on digital preservation, Owens's work will prove an invaluable reference for archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, as well as scholars and researchers in the digital humanities.

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The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation

Trevor Owens

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Reviews

Reviews

This book fills a gap. Finally, someone who has been entrusted with the evaluation, acquisition, and use of digital objects has summarized his tasks from a technical perspective in a well-thought-out text and backed up theory... [Owens] manages to guide the readers in an understandable and clear way through unfamiliar terrain. The book is therefore recommended to all beginners in this area, but also "old hands" will recognize many of their own experiences or maybe learn something else.

Trevor Owens has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking book... Owens provides important guidance on taking a step back to gain perspective on what one is trying to accomplish with the preservation of a digital object or collection. That is, to see preservation not merely as a technological process to be applied to all objects, but as a craft to be applied as appropriate in the context of particular digital collections and their archival purpose.

The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation is a thoughtful, well-written, and extremely readable book. Owens draws from many cultures and disciplines to illustrate and define how we have preserved and will continue to preserve digital information.

Anyone looking for an approachable introduction to digital preservation, or a new perspective on persistent digital quandaries, will find something useful in this book.

A thoughtful guide that will launch a thousand preservation projects. It will inspire many historians not only to approach their sources in productive new ways, but also to better appreciate the sophisticated contributions of those who tend the archives on which we depend. It is highly recommended.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
240
ISBN
9781421426976
Illustration Description
4 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Beyond Digital Hype and Digital Anxiety
Chapter 1. Preservation's Divergent Lineages
Chapter 2. Understanding Digital Objects
Chapter 3. Challenges and Opportunities of

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Beyond Digital Hype and Digital Anxiety
Chapter 1. Preservation's Divergent Lineages
Chapter 2. Understanding Digital Objects
Chapter 3. Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Preservation
Chapter 4. The Craft of Digital Preservation
Chapter 5. Preservation Intent and Collection Development
Chapter 6. Managing Copies and Formats
Chapter 7. Arranging and Describing Digital Objects
Chapter 8. Enabling Multimodal Access and Use
Chapter 9. Tools for Looking Forward
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Trevor Owens

Trevor Owens, the head of digital content management for library services at the Library of Congress, is an adjunct faculty member at American University and the University of Maryland. He is the author of Designing Online Communities: How Designers, Developers, Community Managers, and Software Structure Discourse and Knowledge Production on the Web.