Information management is an issue that has gained much importance in the recent past, considering the significance of it for all fields including the corporate, academic, academic, and research worlds. As many scholars have embraced the value of research, it remains a duty of archivists and librarians to ensure that such investigation or reports are well kept and accessible to various users on demand. With the increase in technology, digital storage of information has become the primary approach for most of the information archives. Such storage approach provides convenience in terms of accessibility of the information.
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However, there have been concerns over the long-term sustainability of such information, considering the likelihood of digital platforms and information formats to change with the continued advancement in technology. Such a change may render the previous versions of information obsolete, and thus, lose them, especially if they cannot be transformed into the new formats. The article “An Information Life-Cycle Approach: Best Practices for Digital Archiving” by Hodge involves a study sponsored by the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) with the aim of reviewing the significance of digital archiving. The participants of the study included managers from the various projects who were asked different questions concerning the best digital archiving practices and emerging models in the same field.
Evolution of Information Management
One of the areas that have been well highlighted by the article involves the evolution of information management. Initially, data was stored mainly through microfilm and print media, with the librarians and archivists having the primary role of cataloging such information in a way that would ensure easy access (Hodge, 2000). Such data was long-term as the bulk and tangible nature of the printed information remained difficult to lose, unless in incidences such as fires. Nevertheless, with the current technological revolution, information management, just like all the other fields of life, has embraced digitization. This has led to a shift in information storage and management to the computer-based approach. Digital archiving has brought with it various benefits including the ease of access to information and the speed of attending to all the stages of the information management cycle.
However, digital archiving sustainability in the long-term has raised various concerns. The author cites that unlike the traditional technologies including microfilm and paper, digital information is easily altered or corrupted, allowing it only a short life span (Hodge, 2000). In addition, it is also clear from the article that the technologies required to access digital media are ever changing. On the other hand, various forms of information are bound to certain hardware or software technologies to an extent that one cannot apply them beyond such proprietary environments. Considering the rate of technological advancements, the lifespan of digital archiving is shorter, with shrinking time between the creation and preservation of data.
Functions of Digital Archiving and Best Practices
Creation involves the process of manufacturing of the information product, forming the first stage of the information management cycle. According to Hodge (2000), the practices employed in the creation of digital information have a great impact on how easy such object can be digitally preserved and archived. Previously, the creation process was not much complicated as it mostly involved print data. Thus, issues involving the longevity of the data were more inclined towards the type of paper and ink applied in printing the information as it was archived in bulk on printed material. This has evolved over the past few decades with the embracement of digital approaches in information management, with the creators of the information forced to adopt electronic methods of storing information. In the digital creation phase, best practices involve the creator of the information in the assessment of its long-term value, as individuals will give the same value to information as the one given to it by the creator. Second, through proper consideration of issues of format, consistency, metadata description, and standardization from the information creation phase, the process of preservation and archiving becomes more efficient (Hodge, 2000).
Collection Development and Acquisition
This stage forms an important function of archiving which involves virtual or physical incorporation of the created object into the archive. Previously, the acquisition of information included acquiring by purchase or donation of identified and appraised material which had been determined to have sufficient value, from their sources and bringing such into the archival institution according to the archival value they hold. This process was quite simple with no much legislation involved apart from the copyright band intellectual property laws. In digital objects’ acquisition, gathering procedures and collection policies form a vital part of consideration in determining the best practices. The collection policies define what one can archive, the extent to which they can archive, refreshing contents of the site, and archiving links. In this case, the best practices comprise adhering to the provided guidelines (Hodge, 2000).
Identification and Cataloging
Identification and cataloging are important in the management of the digital objects for a given period. With traditional archiving, the materials were physically described and labeled according to location and were arranged in sequence to allow the ease of access. In digital archiving, in the case of identification, a unique key is given to each object which is used to find it and also link it to various related objects. On the other hand, metadata cataloging supports access, organization, and duration. At this phase, the best practices revolve around the creation of metadata. As such, according to the author, there is a shift towards automatic metadata generation as manual metadata creation has been deemed ineffective in digital archiving (Hodge, 2000). It is important for the librarian or archivist to consider the type of data, available resources, discipline as well as the cataloging approaches employed before choosing the metadata format to be used.
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