Next week is Preservation Week. In honor of the upcoming observance, I would like to share an interesting article written by David Pogue which was recently printed in Scientific American. Mr. Pogue warns us against the potential for a major loss of our cultural ephemera due to the shifting and seemingly invisible nature of digital documents. Yes, we are probably taking many more pictures and videos than we used to due to the ease of a quick photo taken from our cell phones, but where are these pictures going? Quick Facebook posts and perhaps Flickr collections. Will these pictures be viewable in 50 years with changing formats and the continued advancement of proprietary viewers?
Preservation is a topic of concern among librarians. Not only do we strive to make the latest and greatest available to our patrons via new databases and streaming media, but we are also equally concerned about maintaining access to these resources over the course of time. For example, the earliest iteration of the Robinson Music Library’s website goes back to August 15, 2002 courtesy the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Kind of fun to see how the site evolved under the expert guidance of my predecessor, Bonnie Hauser. Still a website is a digital product. Unlike physical items, it is dependent on many things like its programming language, platform, and even electricity. Just like the 8 track tape is dependent on its player (when was the last time you saw one of those?).
This is why digital preservation is an important topic. What will the archives of 2111 look like? How much of today’s creations will be viewable? In the meantime, check out the San Francisco Conservatory’s new blog featuring their archives. Interesting to read the origins of both institutions have Ernest Bloch in common. CIM has a similar treasure trove in the bowels of the institution, but hats off to San Francisco for development of such a celebration of their past.