Dina Lopez-Five Minute- Reaction Paper- from a post on the UKLON Blog

While our job as archivists, catalogers, librarians and other professionals is to embrace the field as an emerging trend of technology that supports cultural heritage projects; it is also important to consider the preservation of this digital material.

Digital material such as websites, pamphlets and other sources of ephemera are losing their credibility as sources to be cataloged and archived. “Lost online heritage” is an issue that is prevalent in leading libraries in the UK. This “lost heritage” deals directly with the quick passing of material- regardless of its importance. Obviously, material that is highly useful, or highly scholarly is regarded to be of more prevalence and therefore tends to be libraries’ main focus of effort and time. However, if anything can be learned from archiving, it is that the simple historical nature of the material creates a timeline. This timeline can be understood in various dimensions- historically, visually, and is indicative of its time, location and space. So it is not a priority to archive material such as websites and other ephemera that is being lost by the second?

With the advancement of technology and its influence in various mediums and outlets, it is imperative to take a look at what saving this kind of material would translate to. As a researcher, a website is an indication of its time- and the advancement of technology to that specific point in time. Just as the rings of a tree tells us the age of said tree- including rain droughts and other ecological factors; having a repository of ephemera material can motivate several modes of comparison. Personally, as an advocate of design- it is particularly interesting to be able to study the nuisances of advertisements and graphic design. Visually, our minds have a certain way of conditioning information that can tell us circa what time this design was made. The ability to answer these questions has a huge impact. I can recall the Bauhaus and its strict design in advertisements, as well as the Nazi regime calling this design movement “un-German”. Even something that we might not think is valuable information today, in future comparisons it might lead to important conclusions.

What steps can be taken to digitally preserve material? Certainly there are steps that can be taken to preserve digital material. Since the technology used to create specific digital material can become obsolete in a fast manner, steps to preserving information for future use is important. The Museum, Libraries and Archives council provides an outline of steps that can be taken to ensure the preservation of materials. (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/cultural-heritage/documents/briefing-42/html/)

Along with general guidelines, there are documents on planning, standards and preservation issues available at: (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/cultural-heritage/documents/#preservation). Because of the sensitivity of the material, information that is useful for us today might not be able to be used in a couple of years. Retrieval of material then becomes an issue that perhaps is not as prevalent with written material or printed material, which is immediately accessible. Why is preservation exceedingly important?As described above, the issue of preservation can ensure that documents are available to be used by researchers and the public. As always, the issue of accessibility becomes the main issue when preserving information.