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Measuring progress of digital preservation

arl-logoHow can we measure the extent of preservation activity? One way to do this for libraries is costs. ARL produces annual preservation statistics, and it appears that one helpful blogger has collated the data in a more useful way.

ARL produces a lot of detail in its reports, but it isn’t helped by not dating versions clearly and precisely. So, for example, the most recent report (pdf) (i.e. with commentary) covers 2006–2007 and is simply dated 2009, but the latest figures are for 2007-2008 (an Excel spreadsheet, no commentary, undated). That’s my understanding, anyway, not being a regular reader of ARL statistics, although I have noticed quite a few announcements for these recently.

A blogger at Preservation & Conservation Administration News has now ‘reconsidered‘ the most recent figures (07-08): “After years of thinking about this and occasionally calculating the comparison stats for the institutions where I’ve worked, I’ve finally taken the time to put together an Excel spreadsheet that calculates the following comparisons for all reporting ARL Libraries”. Go to the blog entry to download the comparison spreadsheet.

Is this new and useful, and does it help the case for preservation? As the blog says: “Well, most libraries are competitive and recognize certain other ARL libraries as peers to which they aspire or like to compare themselves.”

Two things to note. First, this is at the level of libraries rather than repositories, although if you go back to the most recent report (2006–2007) you will find some context for repositories and institutional repositories. Second, this is about preservation and so not wholly about digital preservation.

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