The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation

Trevor Owens (Author)


Many people believe that what is on the Internet will be around forever. At the same time, warnings of an impending "digital dark age"--where records of the recent past become completely lost or inaccessible--appear with regular frequency in the popular press. It's as if we need a system to safeguard our digital records for future scholars and researchers. Digital preservation experts, however, suggest that this is an illusory dream not worth chasing. Ensuring long-term access to digital information is not that straightforward; it is a complex issue with a significant ethical dimension. It is a vocation.

In The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, librarian Trevor Owens establishes a baseline for practice in this field. In the first section of the book, Owens synthesizes work on the history of preservation in a range of areas (archives, manuscripts, recorded sound, etc.) and sets that history in dialogue with work in new media studies, platform studies, and media archeology. In later chapters, Owens builds from this theoretical framework and maps out a more deliberate and intentional approach to digital preservation.

A basic introduction to the issues and practices of digital preservation, the book is anchored in an understanding of the traditions of preservation and the nature of digital objects and media. Based on extensive reading, research, and writing on digital preservation, Owens's work will prove an invaluable reference for archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, as well as scholars and researchers in the digital humanities.

Product Details

Price: $34.95
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Published Date: December 11, 2018
Pages: 240
Dimensions: 5.5 X 0.6 X 8.5 inches | 0.7 pounds
Language: English
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9781421426976
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Trevor Owens, the head of digital content management for library services at the Library of Congress, is an adjunct faculty member at American University and the University of Maryland. He is the author of Designing Online Communities: How Designers, Developers, Community Managers, and Software Structure Discourse and Knowledge Production on the Web.


"This book fills a gap. Finally, someone who has been entrusted with the evaluation, acquisition, and use of digital objects has summarized his tasks from a technical perspective in a well-thought-out text and backed up theory... [Owens] manages to guide the readers in an understandable and clear way through unfamiliar terrain. The book is therefore recommended to all beginners in this area, but also "old hands" will recognize many of their own experiences or maybe learn something else."

--Dr. Kai Naumann "Archivar "

"Trevor Owens has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking book... Owens provides important guidance on taking a step back to gain perspective on what one is trying to accomplish with the preservation of a digital object or collection. That is, to see preservation not merely as a technological process to be applied to all objects, but as a craft to be applied as appropriate in the context of particular digital collections and their archival purpose."

--Larry Weimer, Head of Archival Processing, New York Historical Society "Metropolitan Archivist "

"The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation is a thoughtful, well-written, and extremely readable book. Owens draws from many cultures and disciplines to illustrate and define how we have preserved and will continue to preserve digital information."

--Sharmila Bhatia "Mid-Atlantic Archivist "