Article Review: Brewster Kahle on Access and Preservation

This blog post was old, but I found the topic intriguing; digital preservation is my particular area of interest, so I’m always curious about the challenges and opportunities that face the digital access movement, and Brewster Kahle is definitely one of the people at the forefront of this area. “Kahle suggests that universal access is within our grasp and suggests that two key elements in its provision are the roles and politics that will undergird the work.” I found it really interesting to read Kahle’s cost projections of digitization techniques, and his opinion that the only real obstacles to digitization of nearly any format are the infrastructure required and the politics involved with copyright and ownership of the information.

I’m curious to see where this movement goes. Kahle talks about how preservation and access must be inexpensive, and I definitely agree that they must be, in order to be sustainable. The question, especially for libraries, is can they be? I really wish that I could talk to Kahle about the steps that libraries have taken in the past few years to lower the costs of digitization, and how it might be possible to make those costs even more negligible, and our processes more effective. The relatively recent “More Product, Less Process” trend seems like it has started us on a path towards that, but I’m sure there are still ways that libraries could improve.

Another question that seems extremely important: who will be responsible for these archives of knowledge, and how can we make things accessible to all, both right now and in the future? As Kahle points out, right now the issue of control is paramount, and also extremely political. There seem like so many questions to consider that I’m personally overwhelmed by the sheer scope of all the factors: location, storage, replication, access, format, regulations and standards… It seems as though we will be working through these issues for the next few decades.

References

Larsen, Lida. (2007). EDUCAUSE North East Regional Computing Program Conference 2007. Summary: Universal Access to Human Knowledge. EDUCAUSE Blogs. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/blogs/llarsen/educause-north-east-regional-computing-program-conference-
2007-summary-universal-access-human-knowledge

This post was originally written as an assignment for my academic library management class.