What is preservation and why is it so important today?
Q. Dear Donia,
I am a student from Indonesia, and I'm curious about what preservation does and the importance of preservation in the digital age. Thanks, Nuri
A. Dear Nuri,
This is a very big question to answer but I will do my best.
Preservation in libraries, archives, and museums covers a broad spectrum of activities. Under the direct purview of preservation, these activities include: disaster planning, environmental monitoring, integrated pest management, conservation/repair, digital preservation, and library binding. Preservation also interacts with several other areas within the institution including grant writing, security, digitization, exhibitions, staff training, policy writing, planning, and donor relations to name just a few. Everything that preservation does is part of the effort to ensure the safekeeping of the collections.
Preservation is definitely important in the digital age. The fastest growing area of preservation is digital preservation. Institutions know that the digital object is much more fragile than almost any of our physical objects and are making digital preservation a priority. Many institutions are also now making the effort to preserve websites, email, and other digital objects that don't have a single owner in an effort to not lose the culture of this digital age. All of this is difficult of course because technology keeps changing, websites come and go quickly, copyright is always looming, and budgets are tight. However, preservation does its best to keep up and save what it can.
If you want more information, you can see what the U.S. Library of Congress, the British Library, the National Archives of Australia, The Getty Conservation Institute, and Cornell University's Library Preservation and Conservation Tutorial.
I hope this helps to answer your questions.