Digital Archives: Concepts, Meaning & Definition

Digital Archives

Digital has become the order of the day due to the significant advances of computer and communications technology have brought in the post Internet information age we are living. Libraries are not lagging behind other social service institutions in exploring the new technology available at any point of time to improve information organization and services. This can be amply justified by the use of non-paper media like microforms for decades to archive less/ selectively used materials.


Archives are different from libraries as they give more emphasis to prevention than use. However with digital documents, the distinction between archives and libraries blurs as digital materials being intangible never get decayed or suffer wear and tear like print materials by mere use. It is the archival function in the system of knowledge creation and use the services to identify and retain important source of information and to ensure continuing access to them. Beyond the ubiquitous Web server, there is little consensus about repositories for digital libraries and the field of digital archiving is new. Digital archives are distinct from digital libraries in the sense that digital libraries are repositories that collect and provide access to digital information, but may or may not provide for the long-term storage and access of that information.
There are essentially two motivations for creating and maintaining digital archives.
  1. First, to ensure that no valued digital information is lost to future generation, and
  2. Second, certified digital archives will have available to them a critical fail-safe mechanism.
In addition to raw data, digital archiving must preserve ways to interpret the data, to understand its type, its structure, and its formats. Perhaps the most important way that digital libraries can support archiving is through selection regarding what to collect, what to store, what to preserve for the future, an what to discard. The measure of integrity in the preservation process depends on informed and skillful judgments about the definition on the content – the extent to which content depends on its configuration of bits, on the structure and format of its representation, and on the ideas it contains – and for what purposes.

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