digitization in Dockray, Forster & Public Office 2018

Lost Memory: Libraries and Archives Destroyed in
the Twentieth Century](http://www.stephenmclaughlin.net/ph-
makes the fragility of historical repositories startlingly clear. “[A]cidified
paper that crumbles to dust, leather, parchment, film and magnetic light
attacked by light, heat humidity or dust” all assault archives. “Floods,
fires, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes” and, of course, “acts of war,
bombardment and fire, whether deliberate or accidental” wiped out significant
portions of many hundreds of major research libraries worldwide. When
expanding the scope to consider public, private, and community libraries, that
number becomes uncountable.

Published during the early days of the World Wide Web, the report acknowledges
the emerging role of digitization (“online databases, CD-ROM etc.”), but today
we might reflect on the last twenty years, which has also introduced new forms
of loss.

Digital archives and libraries are subject to a number of potential hazards:
technical accidents like disk failures, accidental deletions, misplaced data
and imperfect data migrations, as well as political-economic accidents like
defunding of the hosting institution, deaccessioning parts of the collection
and sudden restrictions of access rights. Immediately after library.nu was
shut down on the grounds of copyright infringement in 2012, [Lawrence Liang
wrote](https://kafila.online/2012/02/19/library-nu-r-i-p/) of feeling “first
and foremost a visceral experience of loss.”

Whatever its legal status, the abrupt absence of a collection of 400,000 books
appears to follow a particularly contemporary pattern. In 2008, Aaron Swartz
moved millions of US


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