electronic publication

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr. jkirkbri at ASRR.ARSUSDA.GOV
Mon Apr 24 08:01:14 CDT 1995

On Sat, 22 Apr 1995, Timothy Rowe wrote:

> However, these messages overlook a more significant point, which is that the
> real cost in time and labor is in the digitizing process - in converting
> analog records like old monographs or in generating new digital information.
> Once the data are stored in digital format, it is trivial to convert them
> to some other format provided that reasonable choices were made in picking
> the initial data format.

>From your point of view and from mine, format conversion seems a trivial
matter.  Ten to twenty years from now when a library has millions of
CD-ROMs to convert, it is no longer a trivial matter.  Libraries have
been so successful exactly because they only had to conserve materials,
not convert everything every few decades.

The US archieves are a splendid example.  They now have tons, literally
TONS, of INaccessable computer materials on punch cards, magnetic cards,
and various tape formats.  They do not have the money to convert
everything, and the machinary is not available in some cases.  Do you
have a punch card reader available?  I had my last punch cards read about
four years ago a month before we junked our last punch card reader.

In terms of one item, conversion is not difficult (if the equipment is
still available), but in terms of an entire library, it is monumental.

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service
Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory
Room 304, Building 011A, BARC-West
Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350 USA
Voice telephone: 301-504-9447
FAX: 301-504-5810
Internet: jkirkbri at asrr.arsusda.gov

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