My attention was particularly grabbed by a presentation by Wayne State digital publishing librarian, Cole Hudson. (He was supposed to have presented with his colleague Graham Hukill who unfortunately could not attend due to a family emergency.)
Part of Cole's presentation looked at the relationship between preservation and access. The glib gist of what he said was that with digital materials we need to rethink the relationship between preservation and access. He then when on to tell of their involved work constructing an access system for WSU's digital collections. Their work was entirely access focused. Near the end of their work they thought they should probably think about preservation too. They looked at the NDSA Levels of Preservation (which may just be replacing OAIS as the obligatory digital preservation presentation reference) and realized that much of their access focused work achieved many of these preservation tasks.
In the Q&A I did the annoying thing of making a comment. I began my comment hoping that a question would form but by the time I got to the end of my talking there was no question. My comment, and the purpose for why I am writing this, was a thought that I've been toying with for a while is that
With digital material, access improves the likelihood of preservation,
with analog material, access decreases the likelihood of preservation.
Instead of "likelihood of preservation" I might use "length of life."
My thinking is that accessing a digital object increases its likelihood of preservation, or a long life, because often access can involve creating a copy - like when I save an article on my computer thus duplicating and distributing the object. Also, a digital object that is regularly used is likely to undergo processes to ensure its future use. For e.g. you will likely migrate a text document that you regularly consult from an old file format to a new one, whereas old files that you seldom use will not likely be migrated.
With analog materials, all use causes damage, or at least increases the likelihood of damage. The obvious example to me is my work library's city directory collection. Man of these books are much newer and better made than much of the rest of our collection, but because of extremely high use, these directories are in very poor shape.
I know my little preservation and access forumla for digital and analog materials isn't a universal truth, but it seems pretty true. I'd be curious to hear if there are people who think that it isn't very true. I'm certainly open to that argument.