“Safeguarding Collections at the Dawn of the 21st Century."

The report by ARL Visiting Program Officer Lars Meyer, “Safeguarding Collections at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Describing Roles & Measuring Contemporary Preservation Activities in ARL Libraries,” responds to a recommendation of the 2006 ARL Task Force on the Future of Preservation in ARL Libraries. The task force encouraged ARL to conduct a high-level investigation of the range and balance of preservation activities represented among the ARL membership. Meyer’s report is a thoughtful and thorough qualitative examination of how research libraries’ preservation activities are evolving and expanding in the 21st century. He not only considered activities traditionally captured by ARL’s Preservation Statistics, but also a host of emerging activities largely, but not exclusively, centered on developing digital collections and involving collaborative efforts.

Meyer sheds light on the broad range of options available to research libraries for making investments in activities to further preservation of high-value resources in their collections. Additionally, the report will provide a basis for a follow-on project recommended by the ARL task force, the creation of a self-assessment tool to assist research libraries in developing efficient, balanced, and effective preservation programs that address the full extent of content they support. Meyer makes many suggestions about where libraries should focus attention, which should prove immediately useful as well as provide a basis for formalizing a framework and process for self-evaluation.

The report is organized into three thematic sections:

Reshaping the preservation functions in research libraries—Libraries must reconceptualize preservation as a core function that extends beyond activities within a preservation department. As preservation is advanced through a range of investments and partnerships, libraries are in the midst of reshaping priorities and reallocating resources to align with new services and conceptions of collections.

The networked digital environment—ARL members need to expand their activities and deepen their practices related to preserving digital content though Web archiving, deployment of digital repositories, and efforts to preserve e-journals and other born digital content (whether purchased, licensed, or digitized by the library).

Library collaborative strategies—Community-level activities are crucial, both to address the challenges presented by digital formats, but also to make traditional preservation activities more effective.



Author: Lars Meyer, ARL Visiting Program Officer.

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