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CLIR Publishes Guide to Managing Risk of Migrating Digital Information


For Immediate Release June 20, 2000

Contact: Abby Smith 202-939-4758

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has published Risk Management of Digital Information: A File Format Investigation. The report is a practical guide to assessing the risks associated with the migration of various formats and to making sound preservation decisions on the basis of that assessment. Written by Gregory Lawrence, William Kehoe, Oya Rieger, William Walters, and Anne Kenney of Cornell University Library, the study was carried out with support from CLIR.

Although computers have made access to information easier than ever, obsolescent hardware and software systems can render digital data unreadable after just a few years. Research is under way to develop viable approaches to digital archiving. Among those being explored are emulation, in which software is designed to mimic an obsolete system, and migration, in which digital materials are periodically transferred from one hardware/software configuration to another, or from one generation of computer technology to a subsequent generation. Both approaches require considerable further development to become broadly practical.

Until an optimal solution is found, institutions realize that they must act to move their digital information forward. Risk Management of Digital Information will help digital archives managers identify the potential risks in migrating files and how to avoid them. The authors organize the migration process into a sequence of steps and offer assessment tools to manage every step. The process is presented in a workbook, each section of which opens with an issue summary. In addition, the appendixes include two case studies for migration—one for image files and the other for numeric files—that demonstrate the approach.

Risk Management of Digital Information is available from the Council on Library and Information Resources for $20 prepaid, including postage and handling. Checks should be made payable to CLIR and mailed to CLIR Publication Orders, 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C., 20036-2124. Credit card orders may be placed by calling CLIR at 202-939-4750, sending a fax to 202-939-4765, or sending e-mail to An electronic version of the report appears on CLIR’s Web site,

The Council on Library and Information Resources works in partnership with libraries, archives, and other information providers to advocate collaborative approaches to preserving the nation’s intellectual heritage and strengthening the many components of its information system. It works to support institutions as they integrate audiovisual and digital resources and services into their well-established, print-based environments.

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