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What We're Reading

On this snowy day here in Ann Arbor, we’re reading Jennifer Howard’s latest in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Analog or digital, no work will have much influence if it doesn’t stick around to be cited or argued with. The technological advances that make digital-humanities work possible also put it at risk of obsolescence, as software and hardware decay or become outmoded. Somebody—or a team of somebodies, often based in academic libraries or digital-scholarship centers—has to conduct regular inspections and make sure that today’s digital scholarship doesn’t become tomorrow’s digital junk. — Jennifer Howard, “Born Digital, Projects Need Attention to Survive,” Chronicle of Higher Education

Howard’s piece points out that though often invisible to end users, the work of digital preservation requires both resources to carry it out and important conversations about what can and should be saved. As a publisher with an explicit focus on preservation, we work to ensure that both our analog and digital products will be around for the long term, to ensure that they remain part of the scholarly conversation. Toward that end, we have been scanning titles from the University of Michigan Press’s backlist and adding them to HathiTrust, a TRAC-certified digital repository with over ten million items digitized from major research universities and libraries. For our born-digital collections, such as journals and digital humanities projects, we use the underlying architecture, expertise, and resources of the University of Michigan Library, which is a recognized leader in the field of digital preservation. To continue providing high-quality and preservable publishing services, we are developing mPach, a suite of tools to facilitate publishing directly into HathiTrust.

To learn more about digital preservation—including tips for how individuals can preserve their own digital materials such as photos, video, email, and other media—check out the Library of Congress’s resources on the subject.

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