Context–Digital Collections Inventory

Context–Digital Collections Inventory

Council on Library Resources
Commission on Preservation and Access

Digital Collections Inventory Report

by Patricia McClung
Digital Collaboration Associates
August 1995
(Updated, December 1995)


The explosion in popularity of the Internet underscores the tremendous
potential that now exists for rapid, networked sharing of information across
the country and around the world. While tools such as World Wide Web and
Netscape make the Internet readily accessible even to novice computer users,
a major impediment to such a global network of linked information resources
is the fact that most documents are not yet available in electronic form.

Cultural institutions and universities–as major collectors, organizers,
preservers, and disseminators of information–represent one of the best
sources of “content” for this emerging global information network. Increasingly,
they are committing resources to making information contained in their
collections as widely available as possible, capitalizing on the evolving
electronic information infrastructure. To do this, they will undertake
massive projects to convert portions of their retrospective collections,
which exist in a variety of formats.

There has recently been a burst of activity, much of it experimental in
nature, towards this end. However, several very large electronic conversion
projects (and related initiatives) intended to test and shape the new information
infrastructure are also getting underway. All of them presuppose an information
system that has either the Internet, or a more robust successor, at its
core. If successful, they will go a long way towards real implementation
of the digital revolution that has been predicted for so long.