Lossy vs lossless vs lost forever

“(3)Challenges for librarians

Librarians usually work on the standard of metadata and searching services in the digital projects. In Liu’s article, it says that the standard differs from project to project. What do you think is the most important thing when the librarians are digitizing their collections? For small libraries, since they always have local collections, they may have different concerns on the standards.

The concern for libraries is the same whether it concerns metadata schematics or the file type they choose to use for their items. As the collection ages, will the items be accessible and useful and will the items survive? In digitization, the choice between lossy and lossless also has to encompass lost forever. If the library chooses a format that isn’t supported in the future, they lose the ability to grant access to the digital artifact. Similarly if the library chooses a metadata structure that becomes defunct, they lose the ability to display the items through a new UI. Both of these losses necessitate moving data to a new format which isn’t always cheap or easy. For larger libraries with bigger budgets, customization or metadata schemes for specific markets (art, architecture, law) are possibilities whiles for smaller libraries large popular metadata schemes might be a better bet for longevity.

Beyond that, it’s always best to determine the elements that you want to track before picking a scheme rather than forcing your items to fit the scheme that was chosen for you. No one wants to lose information about their items simply because there isn’t an element available to track the metadata.

Concerning the scanning standards at the CDP:

Although I understood the needs for the scanning standards for the CDP, most of the standards felt loose.  For example, “Scanning at the highest resolution appropriate to the informational content of the originals”and “Storing media in an appropriate environment”, who decides what is and isn’t appropriate. If there were issues with the scanning that necessitated these standards, I would have assumed that this would have been spelled out for each item type. I looked to see if the article was missing the specific guidelines, but all of the links were broken.

Side note: the GIF creator says that it’s pronounced with a soft G, but I’ve always pronounced it as a hard G. Jiff just doesn’t sound right… anyone else?


5 responses to “Lossy vs lossless vs lost forever

  1. “If the library chooses a format that isn’t supported in the future, they lose the ability to grant access to the digital artifact.”

    I think this is really the bottom line when it comes down to it, especially in terms of the ideas we have been discussing over the last week. Choosing formats to use in digitization projects are important, but being able to keep up with changes in technology are what will ensure access for users in the future…. and is therefore crucial to the sustainability of the project. Nice post!

  2. Always pronounced it with a hard “g”…
    Interesting point you made about the CDP standards being “loose.” I felt they were very general but I don’t know if that is on purpose. For example, “Creating backup copies of all files on a stable medium” could incorporate different methods/software/applications at different times. What we use now for digital preservation will be different in a decade, but how different?

  3. Great thoughts, Librariems. What do you (everyone) think the utility is of having these sorts of loosey-goosey standards? Is it better than no standards at all – or worse? Is it even helpful when the best practices are this nebulous? Or does the stepping out of the concerns at least get the need to think about this topics on people’s radars?

    (20 years online, and I roll with the hard “g” on GIF; anything else sounds like peanut butter.)

  4. I mean, it hedges the bets for changes in technology and in the types of media that they can and will accept since they can decide what is and isn’t appropriate, but it does leave legal loopholes if contributors accidentally damage items but claim that the storage and handling was appropriate in their eyes.

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