Re: Prospects for institutional e-print repositories study

From: Barry Mahon <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 12:07:35 +0100

Stevan Harnad wrote in

>> 5.1.3 Long-term preservation
>> Another potential problem is what will happen to e-print repositories
>> in the longer-term (e.g., Smith, 2003).
> Is it not yet apparent that preservation is one of the most roseate and
> disfragrant of the many red herrings repeatedly flung into all this?
> *If* it is not sufficient to note that self-archiving is not
> self-publication -- that it is merely a supplement to, not a substitute
> for, publication, meant to provide immediate open-access, now, for those
> would-be users whose institutions cannot afford toll-access to one's
> published research, and that hence any preservation worries should be
> redirected to the primary locus, the locus classicus, of this published
> research, namely, the publisher's official on-paper and on-line version,
> *not* the author's institutional open-access supplement to it:
> "Consultation Draft - Study on Preservation of eprints"
> -- *then* surely the fact that (as Michael Day points out) the
> institutional archives are near empty (Strathclyde has exactly *zero*
> eprints, though it has been up for at least a year) should make it clear
> that the preservation of the non-contents of these near-empty archives
> is *not* the problem: *filling* them is.

I had the time to read this far!! and up to then I felt Stevan was doing
fine, however.....the preservation part of the self archiving FAQ:-

> "In short, setting up active preservation programs implemented by
> digital librarians is indeed important and necessary; but it would be
> completely irrational to interpret the need for robust preservation
> programs as a reason for any hesitation or delay whatsoever about
> proceeding with self-archiving right now -- a fortiori, because,
> for the time being, self-archiving is merely a supplement to, not a
> substitute for, the existing, modes of preservation, on paper and
> online. If and when the day should ever come when primary journal
> publishers decide to downsize and become peer-review service-providers
> only, cutting costs by offloading the access and archiving burden
> entirely onto the network of institutional archives, then that
> institutional network will be quite ready, willing and able to take
> over the distributed digital preservation burden for its collective
> research legacy. But that time is not now, hence this worry (about
> self-archiving now) is misplaced"

... says the same thing more or less - but one item is missing from the
argument, presently, or at least until the widespread self-archiving
foreseen by Stevan is achieved, the repositories, primarily National
Libraries <viz. Elsevier Royal/NL Library agreement>, keep a record
of archived items, so that they can be found. One of the worries
of the information community is that self-archiving, even if it is
"ready, willing and able to take over" will not be able to replicate
this identification. Inherently a widely distributed archive will be
difficult to track, this has been identified as one of the 'non-trivial'
issues to be dealt with for the implementation of the Semantic Web.

Bye, Barry Mahon, ICSTI
Received on Tue Jul 15 2003 - 12:07:35 BST

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