Long-term digital preservation is not the best available objective. Instead, what information producers and consumers almost surely want is a universe of durable digital objects—documents and programs that will be as accessible and useful a century from now as they are today. Given the will, we could implement and deploy a practical and pleasing durability infrastructure within two years. Tools for daily work can embed packaging for durability without much burdening their users. Moving responsibility for durability from archival employees to information producers would also avoid burdening repositories with keeping up with Internet scale. An engineering prescription is available. Research libraries’ and archives’ slow advance towards practical preservation of digital content is remarkable to outsiders. Why does their progress seem stalled? Ineffective collaboration across disciplinary boundaries has surely been a major impediment. We speculate about cultural reasons for this situation and warn about possible marginalization of research librarianship as a profession.
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