Sunday, 21 October 2007

Guardian and Observer Archives to be Digitized

In an item posted on the KOnnect blog back in August I commented on our sister group KIDMM's expression of interest in digital preservation issues and referenced the current tussle between Microsoft's OOXML format and the Open Source community's ODF as leading contenders for a preservation format. I also referred to the PDF/A format as a possible third contender, and posted a further item on this blog noting the launch of an XMP editor for PDF under Windows.

In a highly significant development, the Guardian News and Media group (GNM), publishers of the Guardian and Observer newspapers, have recently announced that they are to digitize the whole of the archives of the two newspapers. The announcement adds:
"The group says the move will ensure the preservation of the papers’ legacy as microfilm and paper archives are in danger of degrading beyond repair."
Why is this interesting? Well, firstly because there are many in the Records Management community and beyond who claim that paper and microfilm are still the preservation formats with the longest lifetime, and who scorn the suggestion that digital formats can have greater longevity. Can anyone shed any further light on this debate?

Secondly, I wonder what retrieval facilities are to be offered for the new archive; plain content-based FTR plus author & title, or something more sophisticated? We shall find out soon enough, since the archive is free to access during November.

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