Enhancing Services to Preserve New Forms of Scholarship

by | Nov 19, 2019 | 0 comments

(L-R) Susan Doerr, Charles Watkinson, Karen Hanson, Jonathan Greenberg

The advance in technologies for publishing digital scholarship has outpaced the development of technologies for reliably preserving it. Authors and publishers are creating increasingly sophisticated products with enhancements that potentially put the preservability of valuable scholarship at risk.

As scholarly communication becomes more complex, publishers are creating digital products that are more than mere proxies for a print original; they offer new types of content and new user experiences, such as audio and video content embedded within text; interactive, high-resolution images, maps and visualizations; annotations that can be shared, saved, and further annotated, privately or publicly; non-linear paths of engagement; and custom-built digital publications. Specific examples of this form of scholarship can be found in the Manifold platform developed by the University of Minnesota Press, Fulcrum at the University of Michigan Press, the RavenSpace initiative developed by UBC Press and the University of Washington Press, the interactive digital projects of the Stanford University Press, and Open Square of the NYU Press.

A single publication can potentially include many innovations, each of which presents preservation challenges. Their combination creates an even greater challenge: the need to maintain multiple formats and the connections among them. We describe the in-progress work and findings of a collaboration among preservation organizations, libraries, and publishers that are creating enhanced digital publications. The project aims to identify what can be effectively preserved with existing technologies, and to produce a set of recommended practices to help authors and publishers prioritize and plan their enhanced digital products for maximum preservability. The scope of the project includes books and similar works that include features that cannot be represented in print.

Charles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian, University of Michigan Library, said that every user can become a publisher. Design principles include flexibility, durability, accessibility, and discoverability. Authors are concerned about the longevity of their works which include standard ebooks, enhanced ebooks (that still can presented in a print format or on an epub reader based on a repository layer where the object is preserved), interactive scholarly works that cannot be represented in print but where everything is linked together and is interactive.

Karen Hanson, Senior Research Developer, Portico discussed the Portico platform. Its resources are visually incorporated to ensure that the bytes don’t change. A new validation tool, an epub viewer, has been added to JHOVE validation. Challenges:

Keep the epub as-is, automatically save video and link,

  • Refer to copy in Wayback Machine.
  • Embedded multimedia viewers.
  • Embedded multimedia widgets


  • leave it as is,
  • create a large self-contained EPUB, move the remote resources inside, (It is behaving like a website, so preserve it as a website).
  • Do all 3 approaches combined.

Susan Doerr, Associate Director, University of Minnesota Press, said that the Manifold platform uses the epub3 preservation format. The metadata are reused and embedded. 32 institutions are using Manifold to publish books. One issue under discussion is whether tweeted comments should be preserved or should the links just be shared.

Website preservation approaches are to use a webrecorder, click on every link and watch every video. Other new tools include Memento Tracer (Los Alamos), and emulation as a service Infrastructure (EaaSI).

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