Spooky! The Bod Squad take on the Digital Ghosts

Well hello, Digital.Bodleian!

Picture1What a lovely, clean and appealing interface, love the big friendly search box.  I met Digital.Bodleian at the DCDC conference, where Lucie Burgess gave a compelling keynote explaining the Bod’s plans for its new digital library.  Digital.Bodleian will allow people to use all the Bodleian’s digitised material.

“But of course it will!  Why wouldn’t it?”

This isn’t a given.  Digital material only survives in a usable form if its preservation is actively managed.  But digitisation has been carried out in the main via externally funded projects.  What happens when the funding comes to an end?

Well, JISC’s Spotlight on the Digital recently investigated this very question, with depressing results.  Of 217 publicly funded digital resources created between 1998 and 2013, 40 are “lost to the web”, in most cases because the sites no longer exist or are closed without redirection.

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It will be interesting to see how the Digital.Bodleian work progresses.  The Library was a pioneer of digitisation and thus has 25 years of legacy projects to bring into this new resource!  The Bod are also part of the IIIF: libraries working together to improve public access to image databases.  Improved understanding of digital preservation and more rigorous attention to management and legal issues means (I hope) that modern digi projects are less likely to end up digital fossils and ghosts than their predecessors …

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