Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change

“Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change”, a conference keynote from 2007, available now on Slideshare is the ninth of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This presentation was the opening keynote to a conference in 2007 held by the Belgian Association of Documentation (BDA) to celebrate its 60th anniversary. It dates from my time at the British Library.

The conference theme was “Europe facing the challenge of the long term conservation of digitalised archives”. My keynote synthesised many of the topics I was focussing on at the time (and have featured in some of my earlier slide shares in this series) including encouraging University libraries to engage more actively with research data management in the sciences, to begin developing digital special collections of individuals, and to support international efforts to ensure continuing access and preservation of e-Journals as part of the scholarly record.  In addition, given the European focus I briefly covered some of the major European initiatives in digital preservation at that time.

I have selected this presentation as one of the 12 in this series, not only as it is synthesising these key themes but also because it includes some thoughts on whether digital preservation needed to be evolution or revolution (or a bit of both) for libraries and archives. What did it say?


  • Print/Digital inter-dependencies – collective print storage and digitisation;
  • Ongoing care of existing collections – lifecycle approaches to collection care and digital preservation.


  • New digital preservation networks and services;
  • Professional networks e.g. Digital Preservation Coalition, cross professional boundaries linking archives/libraries/data centres (national developments + international?);
  • New types of service and organisations e.g. File Format Registries, LOCKSS, PORTICO;
  • New (or more significance for) Digital Objects – e-journals, e-research, e-special collections;
  • Acceleration of scale and automation for print and digital;
  • Reaching “tipping points” in print/digital mix over next decade.

Judging by the number of bullet points for each, I was mostly advocating revolution!

The “beginning of the digital age” or analogue/digital tipping point mentioned in the final bullet point however has proved to be much earlier – it was 2002, at least in the wider sphere (for more on that you will need to see/wait for November’s slide share in this series).

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