Digital vision must include preservation, argues British Library chief executive

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The chief executive of the British Library, Lynne Brindley, has challenged the UK government that it must include preservation in its vision of a ‘Digital Britain’. In a speech to policy makers and government officials, she argued that digitising and preserving the country’s collective memory is a ‘critical public service’. She also emphasised the role that she believes the British Library can play in carrying out these tasks and ensuring ‘digital literacy for all’.

In October last year the British prime minister published an article called ‘Digital Britain is a necessity’. In this article he argued that access to digital communications and information are essential for business success and for enriching the country’s social, cultural and educational landscape, as well as helping with social mobility and inclusion. He called for the right policies to be developed to equip the country to be innovative, prosperous and productive in the digital future.

Brindley noted that several strong steps are already being taking towards this goal and added that the British Library, ‘which has a core responsibility for the organisation of information and knowledge’, can make a core contribution to an inclusive national digital strategy.

‘The British Library can help deliver a truly digital future for Britain by growing faster its role as custodian of Digital Britain’s collective memory – acquisition of digital content, ensuring its sustainability and its continuing access and long-term preservation – a critical public service that acts as a springboard for research, new forms of creativity and knowledge creation,’ she said. ‘Without such effort and investment future researchers and citizens will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st Century, and without such guaranteed long-term commitment to preservation, our content and creative industries will be inhibited in their global market success.’