14    Nov 20110 comments

New Zealand: National Library’s Digital Archives Project

As our readers know, one of my favorite blogs is The Signal, the digital preservation blog of the US Library of Congress.

A recent post, written by Mike Ashenfelder, spotlighted the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) and how it is making its digital cultural collections available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Over recent years , the NLNZ has moved towards aggregating its online collections and high-tech resources under an initiative called the National Digital Heritage Archive. On the front end, the NDHA built their own web tools and designed clean interfaces to make the user’s experience easy. And on the back end they partnered with Ex Libris and Sun (now part of Oracle) to develop an OAIS compliant repository.

One of the ways they've done this is through mandated legal deposit. This means that publishers are required to submit their publications to the library.

As part of the 2003 National Library of New Zealand Act, the NLNZ is permitted to collect digital content as it archives the country's cultural heritage. Under the same law, websites were also declared to be public documents, and also subject to legal deposit.

The NDHA is also researching ways to capture newspaper content, and is looking into the technical procedures. It also has the right, according to the post, to circumvent technological protection  to achieve digital preservation. If the project acquires a locked DVD or CD, New Zealand law permits the NDHA to unlock it and access content to preserve it.

This raises more questions in other projects - such as in the Preserving Virtual Worlds project - when it comes to digital games and copyright laws. How can a digital game's code and content be preserved when copyright law forbids "cracking open" the game?

And many new tools are making it easy for professionals, publishers and ordinary citizens to deposit their work or archive websites. Read the complete post for information on the  Web Deposit Tool, the Web Curator Tool and others.

The library is also developing ways to access digital collections from various sources, both in New Zealand and internationally with other national libraries.

We're interested in learning how our readers feel about these technological developments. What do you think about these new tools? Have you personally accessed digital documents and collections from national libraries in different countries? Which ones? What was your experience like? What did you find? Do let us know in the comments below.

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