June 18, 2018

British Library Begins Archiving Scientists’ Email

By LJ Staff

The current age of digital communication has led scholars and researchers to lament the possible loss of important and historic information previously captured for posterity on paper. One of the world’s greatest strongholds of research and thinking is taking steps to guard against such losses. The British Library has launched a program using old technology to preserve the new: Jeremy John, curator of digital manuscripts, has embarked on a mission to scour the facility’s electronic holdings and print them out. "You cannot put digital material on the shelf and expect it to last for 100 years as with a paper manuscript," John told the San Jose Mercury News. "The information stored on magnetic media fades especially quickly, so you have to actively ensure its survival." To that end, John reportedly has been wading through hundreds of digital files stored on everything from CDs to floppies to magnetic tape; he’s looking for significant data generated by top scientists who have used the library’s collection and computers for research. Materials from unpublished manuscripts on down to email will be archived.

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