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Digital Repositories: Not Quite at Your Fingertips

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Title: Digital Repositories: Not Quite at Your Fingertips
Author(s): John, Nancy
Abstract: The digital repository is a key technology used by today’s libraries to collect, organize, archive and make accessible electronic files of different types. This paper argues that while the vision of the role of the digital repository has grown sharper and more articulate, the actual practical outcome has not met the hyperbole. Building blocks continue to be developed, but user access to repositories is still in its early development. There are promising exemplars of this technology, but more effort is needed. Particularly promising is some vendor open source work that may provide the tools needed to open up these digital resources. But fundamental change in how the existence of these repositories and their content is made known to the online user community is needed; traditional metadata access and harvesting is not enough. Infusing the content with an information context may be one way to assure that repositories are a significant part not only of the library of the future but also of the world’s information landscape. Introduction Since the appearance of the first computer, more than a half century ago (CNN 1996), librarians and archivists have struggled with the question of how to share and promote access to computer files and how to assure their long-term survival, however long ‘long-term’ might realistically be. Despite concerns arising from these discussions, little concrete activity occurred during the first forty years – what one might name The Worry Stage. The Worry Stage was typified by the sharing of horror stories, mostly anecdotal (Rothenburg 1995, 42) and frequently related to information in the public trust, e.g. U.S. Census, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. How much data was actually lost, or accessible only at unacceptably high costs, is not known. But the result was a heightened interest in protecting, migrating (moving from one media or one technology to another) and assuring access to information. Interestingly enough at the same time that concern about access to electronic information became widespread, concerns.
Issue Date: 2005-12
Publisher: K G Saur
Citation Info: Libri, 2005, vol. 55, pp. 181–197
Type: Article
Date Available in INDIGO: 2006-11-14

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