Digital information is difficult to preserve over longer periods of time. Carriers like floppies or CD-ROMs have a short life span, and even if you have managed to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hardware and software cannot process the old data is very real. Archives, museums and libraries are acutely aware of these problems, yet they cannot find solutions on their own. They have to find ways to cooperate with industry and governments in order to make sure that the information we create today is still useable in the future.
At the first UNESCO International Conference on Memory of the World in the Digital Age (Vancouver, 2012), the President of the International Council of Archives (ICA), Martin Berendse, argued for an international coalition to realize a Roadmap for the Digital Preservation of the Memory of the World. This idea found its way into the Vancouver Declaration. There is a pressing need to establish a roadmap proposing solutions, agreements and policies that ensure long term access and trustworthy preservation. This roadmap should address issues like open government, open data, open access and electronic government. It should dovetail with national and international priorities and be in full agreement with human rights.
UNESCO, IFLA, ICA, Koninklijke Bibliotheek and DEN Foundation initiated a follow up meeting to prepare an action plan that is planned to take place in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 5 and 6 December 2013. UNESCO National Commissions from Canada, Korea and the Netherlands are cooperating with the UNESCO Secretariat to organize this meeting, at which international experts like Roly Keating (British Library) and Margaret Hedstrom (University of Michigan School of Information) will explain the urgency for closer cooperation between industry, government and heritage institutions, including users. The goal of this meeting is to prepare a platform where key stake holders can meet and discuss issues of long term preservation, and decide on practical measures.
As a preparation for the Hague meeting, the organizers have proposed a two hour preparatory workshop at Digitalheritage2013, in order to collect feedback from the global heritage community on this initiative and to gain up to date information on issues that the platform should tackle.