Yale Library to Plan Digital Archives with Elsevier Science

The Yale University Library and Elsevier Science announce today a year-long planning process for the creation of a digital archive for the 1,100 journals published electronically by Elsevier Science.

The Yale University Library and Elsevier Science announce today a year-long planning process for the creation of a digital archive for the 1,100 journals published electronically by Elsevier Science.

Assuring the preservation of digital information is one of the highest priorities for libraries and publishers, and this project marks a step forward for both. The project expects to realize a model archive within two years and looks to a future in which scientists and scholars will be assured that today’s publications will be available decades from now.

For part of the “life cycle” of scientific information, commercial publishing practices ensure the most effective and cost-efficient means of maintaining access to current information; for other parts of that cycle, digital preservation and access responsibilities must be deliberately transferred to an archival agent. Project planning will focus on the critical events that should prompt changes in the management of preservation, on what a library needs to act as an archival agent and on the agreements needed to enable such changes.

The project will investigate the uses a digital archive supports and the extent to which it is possible to differentiate between content-the long-term integrity of which must be preserved-and the options for rendering and using that content. Various formats for encoding digital content will be studied to determine which are likely to remain relatively stable over time and to be good anchors for preservation. Project planners will establish an infrastructure for processing digital objects selected for the archive.

The plan for a library-based archive of the digital publications of Elsevier Science will include the business arrangements necessary for maintaining the archive over time. A good plan and a successful implementation of that plan could result in a digital archive being in place by 2003. The Yale Library hopes that in time it might be able to offer model archival services to publishers other than Elsevier Science. A substantial number of other projects in the United States and abroad create an environment of experimentation and professional discourse for the collaborative work of the Yale Library and Elsevier Science.

The one-year planning work is supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Yale participants include Scott Bennett, University librarian; Ann Okerson, associate University librarian; Paul Conway, head of the library’s Preservation Department; and David Gewirtz, project manager in the University’s Academic Media and Technology Department. Elsevier Science personnel include Karen Hunter, senior vice president; Geoffrey Adams, global information technology director; and Emeka Akaezuwa, associate director of information technology implementation.

Yale University has one of the world’s finest research libraries, with over 10 million volumes and extraordinary special collections. Well-known for the depth and breadth of its print collections, the library has been moving steadily to provide increased access to scholarly materials in electronic form. This interest in electronic media and the library’s concerns for the long-term preservation of scholarly resources come together in the Yale/Elsevier Science project.

In commenting on the generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, Bennett noted: “The Library has long been a leader in the area of book preservation, creating model programs that have benefited the wider library community. It is our sincere hope that through this joint effort with Elsevier Science we will begin to take on a similar role in the preservation of digital resources.”

Elsevier Science (http://www.elsevier.com) is the world’s largest scientific, technical and medical information provider, publishing journals as well as books and secondary databases. It is a member of the Reed Elsevier plc group (http://www.reed-elsevier.com), a leading international publisher and information provider. Operating in the scientific, legal and business-to-business industry sectors, Reed Elsevier provides information solutions to professional end users, with increasing emphasis on the Internet as a delivery method.

Conway, head of the Yale library’s Preservation Department, can be reached at paul.conway@yale.edu. Hunter can be contacted at khunter@elsevier.com.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325