Companies must plan for digital preservation, says British Library

The volume of digital information held by companies is predicted to rise 25-fold over the next decade, from an average of 20Tbytes to 500Tbytes

Companies need to come up with digital preservation policies to deal with ever-growing volumes of digital data.

A consortium including IBM, Microsoft and Tessella Technology and Consulting has looked at the way 200 organisations are maintaining long-term access to digital information.

They say the volume of digital information held by companies will rise 25-fold over the next decade, from an average of 20Tbytes to 500Tbytes.

Organisations will need to keep documents, images, databases, websites, audio and video. Despite most knowing how important digital preservation will become, only 48% of organisations have a policy for it, and 47% a budget.

The survey was conducted as part of a European Commission-funded digital preservation project called Planets, co-ordinated by the British Library. Officials at the library are already working on preserving websites in the UK before much of their content is lost. The growing need for digital preservation means there is an increasing demand for technology to automate the processes of planning preservations, profiling collections and preserving content.

To preserve digital content, it must be converted into new accessible formats, or the environment in which it was created must be stimulated.

Adam Farquhar, programme director and head of digital library technology at the British Library, said, "Work to preserve digital content for the long-term is led by organisations such as national libraries and archives, which have large volumes of content and a legal and moral imperative. Over the next 10 years, other types of organisation will be faced with the same challenges when the volume of digital content they hold rises to comparable levels and they are subject to legal, regulatory and commercial pressures."

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