Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ephemeral Digital Archives

Most librarians are following the Google Book Settlement carefully, wondering what it will mean for long-term access to a large part of the scholarly record. This article from Inside Higher Ed will do nothing to quiet their concerns. It describes the "fate of 'Paper of Record,' a digital archive of early newspapers with a particularly strong collection of Mexican newspapers ..." Paper of Record was bought secretly by Google in 2006, and some time last year, the site disappeared. "After weeks in which historians have complained to Google and others about the loss of their abiilty to work, the previous owner of the archive has received permission to bring the archive back for some period of time, and resumption of service could start as early [as] next week." The article describes the blog posts of historians "worried about what the incident says about the availability and accessibility of key resources" and the "'fragility of evidence in the digital era.'"

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