Predicting the future has always been a tough gig, but never more so than in the age of technology. Even the very best minds, with every available resource and the best of intentions, make mistakes. For example, when CD technology hit libraries and other data-heavy organizations in the 1990s, a collective light bulb turned on and the race to convert documents, public records and archival collections to CD was on.
Why the rush? Well, there didn’t seem to be a downside, based on the best information available at the time. These tiny discs had huge storage capacity compared to existing mediums, were light years ahead of paper as far as durability went, were less fragile than microfilm or other image based tapes, and they were easy to store. Moving entire collections and archives to CD seemed to be the answer to many problems plaguing the preservation and records management worlds.
However, fast-forward 20-25 years and it appears the “rot”, as they say, has set in. Recently, NPR’s All Tech Considered released an article about emerging problems with aging CDs. It turns out that CDs aren’t nearly as indestructible as they were once thought to be. And, not only do CDs deteriorate faster than anyone had previously believed, the CDs themselves also vary in quality, so there’s no sure way to predict how long any particular CD will last. What a mess.
But, never let it be said that librarians don’t learn their lessons, perhaps even going a little overboard at times. There is a new endeavor called the Future Library project that is attempting to cover ALL the bases when it comes to preserving and disseminating literary works for future generations. This novel (pun intended) project is planning to compile 100 pieces of original work from famous and award winning authors that will remain unread for 100 years. When the century is over, those in charge of the library trust will release the unread work to the public to see how the literature stands the test of time.
Document Preservation Technology Redundancy
As interesting as the literary aspects of the Future Library project are, it’s the low-tech redundancy that interests those of us in the business of preservation and records management. Not only will all the manuscripts be written on special archival paper, sealed in a box, and stored in a dedicated room in the Future Project library, the futurists are even storing a printing press at the same location just in case printing on paper as we know it today has faded away. Even more extreme than an onsite printing press, they are planting 1,000 trees dedicated to providing the paper needed to print these pieces, so that a century from now, the manuscripts can be enjoyed as the books they were intended to be.
While the preservation professionals at Advantage Archives won’t go so far as to grow a forest for our clients, our records management services do include optional redundancies to protect your important documents and collections. We specialize in converting archival records, paper records, public records, including microfilm and microfiche to a digital format. We also have climate control storage and a digital media vault with a flexible and customizable storage system that can accommodate all types and sizes of data. In addition, we work with all mediums: backup tapes, data cartridges, CDs, DVDs, computer disks, films, optical disks, highly confidential paper records, audio and video tapes, microfilm and microfiche, film negatives, disaster plans and more.
If you’d like to try out a free sample of our work, we’ll be happy to convert one roll of 35mm microfilm to digital and turn it into a searchable website for you. Your microfilm will be returned to you in perfect condition, all at absolutely no cost or obligation to you. If you have any questions or a free consultation, please send us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.