Wednesday, December 3, 2008

afternoon discussion and Q&A

Moving to open discussion:

Schottlaender: how would we articulate the value proposition?

RS:The question of value is one that we face on a couple of different levels.
Print vs electronic:
* There's a bunch of questions now about whether we need to keep the print for preservation.
* For digital collections -- the idea that we're going to spend a lot of money keeping print for fixing errors in scans doesn't seem right; over many years
We might have changing digital file standards -- rescanning images to a new standard etc. But if we have reason to scientifically trust the digital systems that exist, then there's a question about whether preservation alone is a reason to retain print -- this seems speculative to me.

audience comment: what about google's efforts -- they claim they will be driving traffic to libraries. We don't yet know how digitization, leading to better finding aids and indexing, will actually increase usage of print.

ES: one of the major strides that is being made in the preservation world is focussing on the loss of content. There's a much higher risk for print journals that are print-only and have no electronic version.
Simulating outages: need to simulate an entire digital publisher outage.
Also: what about journals when the digital version & the print versions are different?

audience comment: I would suggest modeling a range of catastrophes -- will probably be more subtle than a total outage, such as losing access to a particular format. [Ed. note: I totally agree with this comment. PDF and the like are both relatively new standards and not entirely open ones; the danger of putting all our eggs in a proprietary-data basket seems pretty high].

JN: the speed of risk and recovery for print materials is very slow on both ends. The speed of onset of problems for digital materials is much faster, though recovery is also much faster.
And if we keep thinking about the issues -- most printed work today *started* life in a digital format. Do we preserve the surrogate or the original?

CM: Print & electronic deserve to be treated differently. Aggregate value over time will probably decline.
Most titles in JSTOR are held by hundreds of libraries; but for print-only journals, institutional holdings are very thin (and that means an entry in OCLC, not every issue!) Print-only journal holdings tend to be *very* spotty.

BS: so, people like Constance and Roger would do us all a big favor if you could do some research into what "print-only holdings need to be preserved" actually means.

ES: And when does it make sense to work on a network level? When does it make sense for libraries to participate in consortia? And when do we set up a "non-compete" agreement -- we don't have enough resources to do things twice over.

BS: this is all great, but individual circumstances at institutions can change rapidly. We might run out of money next year.

Audience comment: one thing that argues for UC as a system being useful as a node is our ability to act as a system.

BS: to continue to think of ourselves as a node on the network.

Some discussion amongst the CDL people in the room that I didn't catch.

Audience comment: the infrastructure to actually do cross-campus collective development is tough, ie. who bears the cost of selection tools, etc.
ES: Yes!

RS: A bit of history: the midwest print repository in the 1940s and 1950s, became the Center for Research Libraries. Has a completely different mission on the national level than it did at the regional level. So the notion that you can just agree on something and then it is stable is probably false.
(To the audience): what about duplication across the RLFs? Is the mission of the RLFs changing?

JN: what pulls resources somewhere? what creates a pull? The RLFs pull resources towards them.

BS: The other beauty of the network is it enables one to distribute responsibility over many players.

Audience comment: about the 1970 journals (that we might hypothetically toss the print of because they are all online): there are some things that are not really digitized commonly -- ads, covers, etc.

RS: that's true and we need to make sure that the digital scanning process is enough. some discussion follows about the historical record and a 1470 journal versus a 1970 journal.

The presenters discuss preservation issues. Photo by Min-Lin Fang.

BS: At the end of the day, we mainly need to make sure we *know* how people digitized things

Audience comment: what about lifecycle cost?
JN: the British library has done the best work on this -- i.e. you buy a manuscript, the cost is frontloaded; but when you buy a digital format you have to keep dealing with it.
But that is probably not quite right because the last period has been especially chaotic. Some digital formats are more stable than others (i.e., we've got ASCII text down). Over time preservation has meant preserving something in a media -- stone tablets, etc. We don't worry about the languages the content is in.
But in digital preservation it's reversed: the storage media is very cheap, but we worry a lot about how to interpret the data. The digital problem is "forgetting how to speak the language."

Audience comment: I'm wondering how you think the UC and CDL is an *impediment* to collection development. What does anyone from the CDL think of collaborating with the CSUs and comm colleges?
Ivy Anderson (CDL): Hathi trust is high level collab & we discovered 60% overlap
ES: there are facets to that question -- e.g. for government or regional information, collaboration makes a lot of sense. Also other libraries may want access to our collections.
As for backup print copies; we can't do that for the entire academic world, but we can do that for the UCs.

BS: The Hathi trust -- I was glad the UCs joined because I think we have much more expertise in digital preservation than they do.

JN: digital preservation is an area of expertise that we have that google, barnes & noble etc do not. And we have specific areas of expertise -- i.e. I sent wax cylinders for preservation from UCLA to UCSB. If we look around the UCs I think we'll find a lot of such areas of expertise where we can pool and share our resources.

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