In December 2012 the 3rd Cultural Heritage online conference was held in Florence. Theme of the conference was “Trusted Digital Repositories and Trusted Professionals. At the conference a presentation was given on the KB international e-Depot with the title: The international e-Depot to guarantee permanent access to scholarly publications.
The international e-Depot of the KB is the long-term archive for international academic literature for Dutch scholars, operating since 2003. This archival role is of importance because it enables us to guarantee permanent access to scholarly literature. National libraries have a depository role for national publications. The KB goes a step further and also preserves publications from international, academic publishers that do not have a clear country of origin. The next step for the KB is to position the international e-Depot as a European service, which guarantees permanent access to international, academic publications for the entire community of European researchers.
The trend towards e-only access for scholarly journals is continuing rapidly, and a growing number of journals are ‘born digital’ and have no printed counterpart. For researchers there is a huge benefit because they have online access to journal articles, anywhere, any time. The downside is an increasing dependency on digital access. Without permanent access to information, scholarly activities are no longer possible. But there is a danger that e-journals become “ephemeral” unless we take active steps to preserve the bits and bytes that increasingly represent our collective knowledge.
We are all familiar with examples of hardware and software becoming obsolete. On top of this threat of technical obsolescence there is the changing role of libraries. In the past libraries have assumed preservation responsibility for material they collect, while publishers have supplied the material libraries need. These well understood divisions of labour do not work in a digital environment and especially so when dealing with e-journals.
Research and developments in digital preservation issues have grown mature. Tools and services are being developed to help perform digital preservation activities. In addition, third-party organizations and archiving solutions are established to help the academic community to preserve publications and to advance research in sustainable ways. As permanent access is to digital information is expensive, co-operation is essential, each organization having its own role and responsibility.
The KB has invested in order to take its place within the research infrastructure at European level and the international e-Depot serves as a trustworthy digital archive for scholarly information for the European research community.