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April 07, 2009


That's a very interesting comparison. I think there are libraries (that provide service) and there are libraries (that preserve material). Not all libraries are alike; some have more than one face or character.

As a service provider, my focus is on the user and I have to prioritise their needs over most other considerations. I do need to consider the needs of future users, but I am finding that my forward vision in that regard is shrinking. I am funded to serve current science. I am not funded to preserve current science for the next 50-100 years. That is just the nature of my institution.

For preservation I look to the major University research libraries, specialist libraries and national libraries. They can give that 50-year or 100-year promise. I cannot even guarantee that my own library will be around in 10 years' time let alone 50 years' time, so what business do I have in trying to preserve materials?

Writing about digital preservation, Chris Rusbridge said "Who has the resources to make a hundred-year digital preservation promise?" http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue46/rusbridge/ He suggested that it is only major research libraries that can do this.

For the rest of, we need to focus on service, users, flexibility and change.

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