Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Internet Archive's Physical Archive

I noted with interest that the famed archiver of the internet, and provider of free and open access to digitized materials (i.e. not Google), The Internet Archive, recently announced an open house for their new physical archive space.

They describe the place as
  • A high density, modular system for storing books, video and audio
  • A temp controlled environment for long-term preservation
  • Our new logistics facility that will catalog and coordinate large collections of books records and movies.
It will initially hold over 300,000 books, and they are "gearing up for millions."

They don't say what are the physical materials they will be holdings, and more importantly, why they have decided to build a physical collection. I'm assuming this is to hold materials they intend to keep for a long time, and not just things in the queue to be digitized. I will do a little more searching, but I do hope they explain further their understanding of the function of this collection. I am reminded, however, of Gary Frost and his ongoing defense of the role of physical collections in relation to their digital surrogate. "We confirm their back-up, mastering, and authentication roles in support of digital research." (From a recent post.)

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