Summit seeks to preserve digital information for future

May 1 2008

TERRE HAUTE - - A meeting to preserve digital information has been set for late May at Indiana State University.

Cinda May, Indiana State University Cunningham Memorial Library assistant librarian and project coordinator of Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, said the Digital Preservation Summit would bring together people who are creating digital information, which needs to be kept viable into the future.

Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to digital content over time.

“Few people are really talking about the long-term piece,” said May, adding digitally created information is especially tenuous as there is usually no paper backup. “Natural disasters or anything can happen. It’s more than the obsolescence of computers or changing software programs.”

“One need look no further than media shifts such as Blu-ray versus HD DVD, cassette tape versus CD or VHS versus Beta to readily understand the implications and complexity of the issues related to digital storage,” added Ed Kinley, associate vice president of ISU’s Office of Information Technology, which is co-sponsoring the summit. “While institutionally we are working to create the digital repositories that will preserve the information we create in a digital world, the issues are, in fact, close to home for many of us.”

While many people have photo albums passed down from parents and grandparents, Kinley said not many people have thought about preserving and passing on the digital photos, movies and letters to future generations.

“The picture album or special letter from great-great grandmother, grandmother or mother will be passed down -- assuming we protect them physically -- but what will happen to that special picture that was taken with your Nikon QuickPic or Sony Cyber-Shot camera'” he said. “Will it survive three, four or five generations' And, if it does, will they be able to view it with the technology available to them'”

Speakers during the day-long summit, on May 21 at ISU’s Hulman Memorial Student Union Dede I, are leaders in their field and will be addressing the different aspects of preservation, May said.

“They are all involved in digital preservation and will share their expertise and knowledge to help us understand the importance of digital preservation and how to start planning for the state of Indiana,” she said.

Martha Anderson of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) under the Library of Congress, will serve as keynote speaker. She plans to speak on the collaboration between libraries and the preservation program from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m.

Other speakers are Jeff Essic of the Data Preservation Project at North Carolina State University, Martin Halbert of MetaArchive Cooperative and Educopia Institute and Joanne Kaczmarek a co-Principal Investigator on the Illinois ECHO Depository NDIIPP project.

During the afternoon, attendees will break into small groups to discuss three questions:

- What digital information are you creating and maintaining'

- How do you plan to sustain and provide access in the future'

- How might your institution or organization collaborate with others'

“We will take an inventory of what people are doing and how they are preserving for the future,” May said, adding that it is for more than librarians. “This is for anyone who creates digital information and who wants to preserve and access it over a long period of time.”

Yet, preserving digital information is more important than maintaining a family history or an institution’s documents.

“Ultimately, the preservation of our information artifacts is one of the very important keys to preserving our humanity and advancing human knowledge,” Kinley said. “Without strategies to preserve our digital records for posterity, we will effectively create a historical void for future generations that will not be recoverable. In essence with the pervasive use of, and reliance on digital media, we have created the possibility of losing knowledge and some records of our existence forever. Just as fire has destroyed historical documents in the past, digital artifacts will be lost forever if we fail to effectively address digital preservation now.”

For additional information or to register for the summit, which costs $75, visit:


Contact: Cinda May, Cunningham Memorial Library assistant librarian and project coordinator of Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2534 or at

Contact: Ed Kinley, associate vice president and chief information office of Office of Information Technology, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2100 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or

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A meeting to preserve digital information has been set for late May at Indiana State University.

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