9.493 e-text archives

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 26 Jan 1996 20:03:14 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 493.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "Peter Graham, RUL" (23)
Subject: Re: 9.487 e-text archives

[2] From: rob@psulias.psu.edu (39)
Subject: e-text archives

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 96 10:35:32 EST
From: "Peter Graham, RUL" <psgraham@gandalf.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.487 e-text archives

From: Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries
On e-text archives:

1) John Unsworth suggested "publishers" as the solution. They are not the
solution, any more than they are for books: if a book goes out of print,
there goes the information. The preservation solution is in libraries, who
keep the books and make sure they last (when they can). A similar division
of labor will take place in the future.

2) As I've written somewhat on the topic, and am maintaining a bibliography
on electronic preservation, let me point interested parties to the bib:
<URL:http://aultnis.rutgers.edu/pgbib.html> will get you to two different but
related bibliographies.

3) A very brief summary of some points of interest: long term preservation
of electronic information comprises three parts, rather like Gaul:
a. medium preservation: refreshing tapes before the oxide flakes off;
b. technology preservation: migrating information forward so that it can be
used in later versions of hardware and software (a very tricky business);
c. intellectual preservation: preserving the integrity, or authenticity, of
information in this highly ephemeral format (this can be done through
mathematical techniques).

There has been work in this area though not yet sufficient demonstration
projects. --pg

Peter Graham psgraham@gandalf.rutgers.edu Rutgers University Libraries
169 College Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08903 (908)445-5908; fax (908)445-5888

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 15:07:42 -0500
From: rob@psulias.psu.edu
Subject: e-text archives

As useful a service e-text repositories like the OTA have served thus far,
it is still far from certain whether the 'repository' model of e-text
organization will succeed as the primary means of insuring the accessibility
of e-texts. As Jim Marchand's list reveals, there are already a number of
such repositories like the OTA, albeit smaller, archiving e-text materials.
Clearly we are still in the initial phases of e-text production, and we can
expect that e-text publishing will soon begin a period of explosive growth,
making it difficult, if not impossible for repositories to keep up. Now
that mass commercial publishers like Penguin are producing e-text products,
the possibility of continuing to rely on the Internet-based repository model
for organization will also decrease because of copyright restrictions. It
is unlikely that the heroic efforts of individuals to create and maintain
lists of e-texts will be enough to keep up with the impending output of
e-text material. And how much longer will the parent institutions of
archives like the OTA continue to support the mega-gigabyte storage needs
of such archiving? What about the demands made on the servers of these
archives when 100s of people are trying to log-in at the same time?

As Jim also noted, the jury is still out as to whether Web search
'crawlers', 'worms,' etc, are really that reliable. I too have become
familiar with a 'no hits' result when I know of the existence of particular
kinds of sought-for material. They certainly can be useful, but there are a
number of reasons why they are insufficient.

Another model, call it the 'traditional library model' if you will, holds
in my view much more promise. E-texts should be treated much like any other
library material: they should be 'acquired' ( this can be interpreted in
various ways), cataloged in the library's local OPAC and on the major
utilities (RLIN and OCLC), and made accessible via a holdings-like statement
that gives a hot-linked URL or other access information. Scholars will
learn to use RLIN, OCLC, or other special e-text catalogs in finding material.

The cataloging of Internet resources has only really begun. Most of the
necessary standards and protocols are in place, it is now more an issue of
library administrations committing to the cataloging of e-text materials (a
number already have).

Roger Brisson
Editor, The Journal of Internet Cataloging