Preservation of magazine content and its accessibility

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Reading-Room of the Boston Public Library, 1871 Wikimedia Commons

Clifford Lynch has just published a thoughtful and carefully researched article on Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”. Lynch’s central claim is that the web, algorithm-based institutions and our contemporary social media are in practical terms impossible to archive and preserve via traditional approaches. The traditional approaches that he has in mind are ‘format migration’ and ‘emulation’, but he appears to suggest that these are alternative approaches when they are essentially complementary. In fact one cannot have format migration without emulation, and any software emulation requires appropriate file format inputs. Lynch gives us a handy explanation of the format migration strategy:

The traditional models of digital archiving are twofold: format migration and emulation. Both, of course, assume a substrate, which is now relatively well understood and implemented with a fairly high degree of confidence, assuming reasonably consistent and continuous funding, of bit-level preservation by migration from one storage technology to the next as necessary [19]. The first approach, format migration, is best suited to “document-like” objects: PDFs, Microsoft Word files, audio, video, XML, JPEG, TIFF, etc. Here the idea is that, as standards, or de facto standards, gradually evolve and the ecosystem to deal with those types of files shift, curators will migrate the file formats, but this strategy is not necessarily as simple as it seems. New file formats are often not isomorphic to older ones. Formats may be proprietary and/or undocumented, and even objects claiming to conform to well-known standards may not implement these standards correctly or may add proprietary extensions. Lynch:Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”

While this may be a small correction to Lynch’s overall argument, it points to an important consequence. In digital culture, preservation — even of traditional cultural objects — is not a closed process. Once we aim to preserve analog or primarily physical cultural objects (for example photographs or books or magazines) in digital repositories and databases we are implicitly committed to an ongoing task of enabling and facilitating new forms of access. Precisely because our digital culture and our innovative technological mix will be inventing new ways of interacting with and enjoying these traditional cultural objects. Nor is it a settled or obvious question how these improvements and developments should be pursued.

This need for an ongoing commitment to preservation struck at Exact Editions very early in our development. We firmly believe that magazines, books and newspapers are all becoming more digital, but we also took it as an article of faith that back issues and archives have important and valuable content that should be available to digital subscribers, so our solutions whether through web browsers or via apps on smartphones and tablets have always ensured that archives and back issues are accessible to the subscribers of current issues. Just as the software of a digital magazine has to welcome and display each new issue, so its database should reach back and awaken back issues that in a print culture are usually filed inertly and inaccessibly on shelves or forgotten heaps.

The digital transition is nevertheless very real. Although the magazines that users read on their branded apps, are in one way strictly equivalent to the printed versions that they might have read in the Boston Library public reading room or Viennese cafes in the 19th century (with those bamboo frames that we still sometimes see) yet the reading experience and the arrangement of the digital editions is very different. It is only with a digital app or a web browser that one could expect to see all the decades or years of a magazine’s issues tidily piled up on a virtual desk. This stacking of issues emulates in a virtual form the tidy arrangement which would be quite hard to achieve with printed issues: and from most points of view it is a much handier solution than the collection of previous issues in carton sorters.

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Slightly Foxed — incomplete archive on a physical desktop

Digital archiving even of historic and contemporary print formats is not easy; but it is both obviously possible and culturally necessary. The 12 complete magazine archives which are showcased in celebration of International Digital Preservation Day #IDPD17 are all growing and their preservation needs in 5 or 10 years time may be unanticipated by their current formats and their existing software. By then we hope to have found out what it is that mixed reality, block chains and machine learning are surely going to teach us. And the archives may in one way look the same, but they may behave a little differently.

 

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Exact Editions – IDPD17

This year brings us the inaugural International Digital Preservation Day, organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and supported by digital preservation networks, institutions and universities world-wide. The commendable drive behind IDPD17 is to encourage institutions and individuals to celebrate resources which have been preserved and to encourage initiatives to be taken for the future.

Exact Editions works to build, preserve and deliver complete online archives for libraries and individual subscribers. The aim is to make every magazine on the platform fully searchable, easy to access and as readable as the print version, serving to secure objects of cultural importance for future generations.

To read more about the cultural importance of magazines, and why they should be preserved, take a look at this post: https://blog.exacteditions.com/2017/11/28/preserving-magazines/

The digitisation of an archive involves numerous challenges such as; creating a fluid platform on which to view the archive and maintaining a perfect digital standard through quality control. At Exact Editions the production team has mastered this process so that thousands of pages are now safe, saved from their perilous paper existence.

To see all the work which goes into digitising an archive, look out for our forthcoming blog to be released on digital preservation day!

When we heard about IDPD17, Exact Editions, and our publishing partners, were very keen to join the digital celebration — and we know you can’t turn up to a digital preservation party without bringing your own bytes to eat. So in the spirit of this digital fiesta we’ve opened up 36 issues to the public for a one month period. Twelve of our publisher partners have kindly allowed us to open three issues from their beautiful magazines.

You can browse these windows into cultural history here: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/showcases/idpd2017

Every single page, issue, year, decade and archive is fully searchable by keyword on the Exact Editions platform. So make sure to explore the free issues in their entirety and have fun with the platform. For example; the 1999 issue of New Internationalist which covers the Radical Twentieth Century surely must mention Che Guevara, right?

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Search results for ‘Che Guevara’ in the January 1999 issue of New Internationalist

Make the most of our easy-to-use toolbar which is located at the bottom of every page on the website. Share your favourite pages on social media channels, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us in any pages which catch your eye!

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Moonlight feature from the March 2017 issue of Sight & Sound

Jokes and freebies aside, Digital Preservation is a potent issue in the modern world. We have the unprecedented opportunity to preserve our history and culture for the future, and Exact Editions is proud to participate in an event dedicated to crystallising our digital legacy.

If you want to hear more from us, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/exacteditions

To see what other magazines we work with, visit our shop pages:

Individual Shop: https://shop.exacteditions.com/ 
Institutional Shop: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/

Exact Editions — Library Blog

Welcome to the inaugural blog post in a new library-focused series by Exact Editions. The frequent posts will be covering any Exact Editions news relevant to librarians, including; technical developments, new content releases and thought pieces on issues within the library community.

The Library Advisory Board

Exact Editions are a provider of digital magazine and book subscriptions to academic, public and corporates libraries around the world. Operating within such a dynamic field requires an in-depth knowledge of the industry in order to best serve the library community. At Exact Editions, we figured that the best way to understand the fast moving library landscape both on a technological level and on a business level, was to ask the librarians. So we enlisted the wise counsel of several leading librarians and industry professionals to create the Library Advisory Board. The board is made up of nine members, who will be consulted on a bi-annual basis to provide their thoughts on two of three specific topics.

The Members

Bill Maltarich, Collection Management Librarian at NYU

Ian Robson, Head of Collection Development at University of Waterloo

Liisa Mobley, Electronic Resources Unit Supervisor at Cornell University

Peter Brantley, Director of Online Strategy at University of California, Davis

Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections at University of Utah

Gary Price, Editor at Infodocket

Hazel Woodward, Director at Information Power

Jill O’Neill, Educational Programs Manager at NISO

Judy Luther, President at Informed Strategies

The Story So Far

Exact Editions share the same objective as libraries and librarians; to preserve and distribute written material with the intention of educating future generations. The aim of the Library Advisory Board is to use the expertise of the members to assist Exact Editions in making informed decisions regarding policy changes. Through this relationship we hope to augment our pre-existing knowledge of the industry, with a particular focus on technology, accessibility, preservation and future challenges. Questions will be asked on a bi-annual basis, and will focus on issues particularly potent for Exact Editions at that period of time. We hope that the process will be mutually beneficial for both parties, as librarians will be able to vocalise their needs and contribute to a service which is ultimately designed for them, and Exact Editions will benefit from the advice offered by individuals working inside the industry.

Feedback from our first round of questions has been incredibly useful, and we are already working on implementing suggestions concerning discovery and visibility of resources. Exact Editions titles are now mostly integrated into the major discovery tools commonly used by librarians, making us easier to find. In an effort to assist the decision making process regarding new purchases, we are offering 30-day trial subscriptions for all of the titles on our website, to allow librarians to explore the platform and magazine content before committing resources.

You can expect blog posts in the near future about our progress regarding MARC Records, Perpetual Access and Exact Editions usage statistics becoming Counter compliant. Furthermore, we have a wave of new content across a vast range of specialised subject areas in the pipeline, which will be of interest to libraries looking to improve their online resource offerings.

Finally, Exact Editions would like to say that we are very grateful for the contribution of time and effort by the Library Advisory Board members. We are always searching for ways to improve our services and to have direct contact with professionals in the library community is extremely helpful.

 

Survey results determine that Magazine Apps are crucial to Librarians

A comprehensive study of worldwide mobile device acquisition revealed that over the past decade “the rate of iOS and Android device adoption has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history”*.

As a digital publishing company specialising in mobile apps, Exact Editions wanted to better understand the function of mobile technology in libraries today and their place in the future. A survey was conducted in January 2015 to a number of librarians worldwide. It quickly became evident that librarians globally are already recognising the sudden increase in students adopting mobile devices for academic purposes. Among our survey 68% of librarians revealed that students frequently used mobile devices to access e-resources in their libraries currently, while all of them answered that this will most definitely increase in the future.

The popularity of mobile technology in libraries is as a result of the increase in students using mobile devices as a source of information. By removing multiple methods of access, Exact Editions have ensured that connection to the apps is as simple as possible through immediate IP authentication. This eradicates the need for lengthy logins requiring a username and password. Most importantly, complete access is enabled when students are off campus through remote/EZ proxy access and Shibboleth for UK institutions.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 17.02.19Cross platform compatibility is a crucial requirement for libraries. Over half of the librarians surveyed estimated that the use of tablets and phones will become more prevalent than desktop resources, while all of them recognised the essential requirement in offering multi platform resources. Indeed with this, students have seamless access and the capacity to read an article on a variety of platforms from online on a desktop, or once the title has downloaded, offline on a mobile device; through apps the students have a 24/7 mobile library. Moreover, the magazines available via Exact Editions are accessible on both Android and iOS devices, again ensuring accessibility is at the forefront of our apps.

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“stacks”

During our research the concept of layout was another important concern for librarians. A high 91% of librarians agreed that the publication should maintain the original look of the printed copy. This not only ensures that the content retains an aesthetic quality, but also provides contextual background, a pivotal necessity for much research. Additionally with mobile apps, the ease at which users are able to scroll quickly through the publications pages ensures reading is far more organic. Discovery remains effortless through the provision of ‘stacks’ that provide a fluid channel in which to flick between issues, thus making reading all the more engaging, easy and enjoyable.

The rapid rise in the popularity of mobile technology along with the potent results of the survey, underlines the growing need for information to be available via app technology in libraries.

 

*http://www.flurry.com/bid/88867/iOS-and-Android-Adoption-Explodes-Internationally#.VMJlfIvnf8s

Family Tree Online!

You can now read Family Tree online! The magazine from ancestry.co.uk provides records, websites and tips to help you trace your family history in Britain, Ireland and around the globe.

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An Exact Editions subscription will allow you to search all issues for key words and share articles on social media whilst also giving you tablet/smartphone access through the Exactly app.

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Subscriptions are available at www.exacteditions.com/familytree (and here for libraries!)

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