A Report of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee to the Commission on Preservation and Access

Douglas E. Van Houweling
Vice Provost for Information TechnologyMichael J. McGill
Director, Network SystemsUniversity of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
July 1993

Committee Preface

This report completes a cycle of reports on technological developments, trends and issues pertaining to the preservation copies of print, film, analog non-print and digital materials initiated by the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC) to the Commission on Preservation and Access. The focus of the prior reports was the changing technologies, options and interrelationships of preservation, namely micrographics and digital imaging and storage. The most recent report went beyond the preservation of our disintegrating print collection to explore the growing and likewise alarming implications of the relatively short life cycle of electronic publications, records and files as well as non-print analog materials.

This study focuses on one aspect of another essential objective of the Commission, namely, ready and universal access to the materials that are being preserved for posterity and for which the originals are rapidly becoming inaccessible.

The developing and expanding regional, national and global digital highways reflect the changing combination of communications and processing technologies. They are providing remote access to digitally stored materials and promise to provide relatively universal, convenient, cost effective and prompt access on a scale previously unrealizable. This will have a profound impact on the electronic surrogates of print and film materials, including preservation copy. Indeed, if appropriate mechanisms and collaborative efforts are established, preservation surrogates of materials will become more readily and universally accessible than either print originals or microform copies.

The author has faced a very daunting task in providing a comprehensive, yet succinct and readable, overview of a combination of technologies. We are indebted to our fellow TAAC member and principal author, Douglas van Houweling, for undertaking this ambitious task and executing it with such clarity and understanding. I also want to express appreciation to the other members of TAAC and Doug’s colleagues at the University of Michigan for their comments and contributions.

Rowland C.W. Brown
Chair, Technology Assessment Advisory Committee

Committee members are: (Chair) Rowland C. W. Brown, Consultant; Douglas van Houweling, Vice Provost for Information Technology, University of Michigan; Michael Lesk, Division Manager, Computer Science Research, Bellcore; Peter Lyman, Librarian and Dean, University of Southern California; M. Stuart Lynn, Vice President, /Information Technologies, Cornell University; Robert Spinrad, Vice President, Technology Analysis and Development, Xerox Corporation; and Robert L. Street, Vice Provost and Dean of Libraries Information Resources, Stanford University.

Table of Contents

Overall structure of the paper
Pace of change
Technology Primer
Analog circuits and modems vs digital circuits
Line speeds
Circuit switching vs packet switching
Types of packet networks
Protocol standards
Figure 1
Support services
Integrity, security, and privacy
Current Status
What We Have Learned
Rapid growth underway
The need for a broadly cooperative effort
The future
Policy Issues
Appropriate use
Privacy and free speech
Potential Impact
The document life cycle
Universities as a human knowledge repository
Broad knowledge access
The university
Appendix–Brief History
Library networks
Published by The Commission on
Preservation and Access 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036-2217
July 1993

Reports issued by the Commission on Preservation and Access are intended to stimulate thought and discussion. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Commission members.

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COPYRIGHT 1993 by the Commission on Preservation and Access. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transcribed in any form without permission of the publisher. Requests for reproduction for noncommercial purposes, including educational advancement, private study, or research will be granted. Full credit must be given to the author(s) and The Commission on Preservation and Access.