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From Link Rot to Web Sanctuary

Here is an interesting story about preserving British government information.

Bernard M. Scaife, Technical Services Librarian at the University of London Institute of Education, writes about dealing with the broken links in their catalogue. Finding that ten percent of the links to external resources in their bibliographic records referred to documents which no longer existed and that many of those were official publications from government departments, he started looking for a way to eradicate their link rot problem. Since they already had Eprints software running on campus, they decided to use it:

It occurred to us that this software could enable us to eradicate our link rot problem, whilst building in a core level of digital preservation and increasing the discoverability of these documents. We were convinced that a citation which linked to a record in a Web archive was far more likely to survive than one which did not.

They knew that government budget cuts were increasing the risk of losing content from government departments. The article describes their experiences and summarizes what they learned:

  • Placing files in a repository gives digital preservation to key documents in the subject field and eradicates the link rot problem.
  • Adding high-quality metadata enhances the resource and allows it to hold its head high and become an integral part of a library’s collection.
  • A specialist library can play an important role in preserving domain-specific government content as part of its long-term strategy and ensure high-quality resources remain available.
  • Provided you are prepared to get to grips with its complexity, the EPrints software is well suited to the task and provides good interoperability with other legacy systems for importing metadata
  • The added value of being able to search the full text provides a potentially very rich resource for data mining whether by current or future researchers of educational history.

    CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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