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DigiCULT
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Info
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aged publications (such as those on CDs), or
products of in-house digitisation can only
be handled by new ways of working and
enhanced curatorial and technical services. '
To fulfil this mandate NLNZ needs to craft
adequate procedural and policy guidelines,
as well as robust technical and staffing infra-
structures that will enable it to discharge its
new responsibilities. Numerous other insti-
tutions are confronting similar problems.
The work that has been done by the Digital
Library team at the NLNZ to lay the foun-
dation for a digital library capable of
enabling the Library to respond to the
requirements laid out in the Act is worthy
of review by institutions considering similar
developments.The work of and challenges
facing the National of New Zealand are
examined in a review of their digital library
development activities published at the end
of July 2003 (http://www.natlib.
govt.nz/files/ross _report.pdf).
M
aria Sliwinska, of The International
Centre for Information Management
Systems and Services (ICIMSS) in Torun
(Poland) draws our attention to the work of
the Fifth Framework funded DELOS
Network of Excellence on Digital Libra-
ries, which brought together sixty-eight
academic and industrial organisations to
examine digital library related issues. Her
report provides a solid introduction to the
contributions of DELOS in general and to
its impact on digital library activity in
Central and Eastern Europe in specific. It
reminded us that we have not called the
attention of readers of DigiCULT.Info to
the work of the joint working groups estab-
lished by DELOS and the National Science
Foundation (NSF) to study the digital
library landscape and define research agen-
das surrounding a number of core chal-
lenges facing digital libraries (http://
delosnoe.iei.pi.cnr.it/activities/internation-
alforum/Joint-WGs/joint-wgs.html).
Among the eight working groups were
those defined research agendas for Spoken-
Word Digital Audio Collections, Digital
cultural heritage resources. Disney has just
released movies on EZ-D DVDs that self-
destruct forty-eight hours after the purchas-
er opens the airtight package containing the
DVD. The underlying technology licensed
by Flexplay Technologies (http://
www.flexplay.com/) creates a chemically
restricted `viewing period or window' dur-
ing which the DVD can be played as often
as the user wishes, but after which the disc
is rendered unreadable.The chemical reac-
tion starts once the DVD is exposed to air.
These chemical processes combined with
the software designed to make copying dif-
ficult (if not impossible) create new difficul-
ties for those institutions which aim to
collect and preserve our heritage. It is easy
to imagine future scenarios where heritage
institutions having acquired materials with a
view to ensuring they could be made acces-
sible decades down the road are un-aware
of the risks associated with opening the
packaging or of the degradation of the
packaging itself. How will institutions verify
that the contents of digital objects they have
acquired are complete if they can not open
the packaging to check the media at point
of acquisition or how will we warn future
curators about the key role that packaging
plays in maintaining the readability of such
digital objects?
A
ccess to and preservation of digital
resources, whether the product of digi-
tisation or born digital, have become crucial
activities of memory institutions worldwide.
Much of this effort has originated in
national libraries and archives. In a very few
countries this has resulted in new laws to
promote such preservation.The National
Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) Act
2003, which came into force in May, has
mandated the Library to collect, preserve,
and make available New Zealand's electron-
ic documents.The Act responds to changes
in how our documentary heritage is creat-
ed, disseminated, and used.`The di-versity
and complex nature of electronic ob-jects
whether websites, digital manuscripts, pack-
number of `stewardship sites were equally
relevant for libraries, archives and muse-
ums', that developers of these resources did
not pay sufficient attention to the objec-
tives and needs of potential users of the
resources they were constructing, and that
the longer term sustainability of some valu-
able stewardship resources was questionable.
Q
uestions of stewardship of portable
objects arise when we consider
those elements of our heritage that are
stored on digital media. Awareness of the
technical difficulties posed by CD and
DVD media, such as the variable and
seemly often unpre- dictable life span of
CD-Rs is becoming more widespread.We
look for CD-Rs produced with phthalo-
cyanine rather than cyanine die layers
when longer-term storage is an issue, we
store the CD-Rs in optimal humidity and
temperature conditions, we minimise how
often we handle the media and when we
do we avoid scratching it or even deposit-
ing oil or other dirt from our hands onto
it, we do not write on (except on the very
inner hub area and then with solvent free
felt markers) or stick labels on the media
itself, and we keep the media out of the
sunlight.We recognise that even with these
precautions, if we are managing stores of
digital media we will need to establish and
use strategies for regular assessing the status
of our CDs. Some types of CDs are more
durable than others, but none are immune
to degradation.The National Institute of
Standards and Technology (US) recently
released a draft report on the Care and
Handling of CDs and DVDs A Guide for
Librarians and Archivists (NIST Special
Publication 500-252, October 2003),
which provides an authoritative, accessible,
and comprehensive introduction to the topic.
http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/carefordisc
/CDandDVDCareandHandlingGuide.pdf
M
ore recent developments, such as
self-destructing DVDs, pose new
kinds of challenges to long term access to