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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 26, June 28, 2009, Article 5

BEN KEELE ON DIGITAL NUMISMATIC LITERATURE

Ben Keele writes:
Partly due to the discussion about digital numismatic works in The E-Sylum, I have written up an essay discussing digital preservation issues for The Asylum. However, since the deadline for the next issue is a couple months off, I have decided to post my draft online. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions, comments or questions.


Toward Digital Numismatic Literature
Benjamin Keele

Despite numerous prognostications, the book is not dead. However, the range of forms numismatic literature can take has certainly expanded. Knowledge that once could only be easily transmitted in paper books or journals is now embodied (to use the term loosely) in digital texts, datasets, and audio and video recordings. The increasing volume of numismatic information produced, both hardcopy and digital, raises important questions about how we can preservation this material and pass it on to future generations of enthusiasts and scholars.

Unlike paper books, storing digital files on sturdy shelves in a cool, dark room is not going to do the trick. My aim here is to continue and expand upon the numismatic community’s conversation about the implications of digital publishing for the hobby, particularly those relating to how the community can responsibly maintain long-term and sustainable access to numismatic literature. Some aspects of this question are quite technical, such as archival file format standards, digital media degradation, and file authentication. These are important, to be sure, but I think solutions will be devised once we clarify and reach some agreement on social and policy questions, two of which I will discuss: why is digital preservation important and who should be responsible for it?

The point is that if we do not take sufficient precautions, numismatists twenty, fifty, or one hundred years from now will have significant problems accessing the digital materials we are now producing. While it is true that not every file must be preserved forever, surely some material is worth keeping. Copies of electronic newsletters, like the E-Sylum and other club publications, could be used to show how the hobby adapted to the emergence of the Internet, not to mention contents that were not published elsewhere.

Digital copies of printed books would prevent tomes with small print runs from falling into obscurity. With digital versions of catalogs like the Redbook and Standard Catalog of World Coins, scholars could use computers to trace market patterns and combine information into every more complete and accurate databases. If one wants to research the activities of famous dealers of the early twentieth-century, one looks to print advertisements, price lists, and paper correspondence. Researchers of the future will want to look at websites and email. The potential benefit digital research can offer to numismatists is great, but we limit that potential if we do not keep the basic resources.

These are only a couple excerpts - to read the complete draft see the link below. -Editor


To read the complete draft, see: Toward Digital Numismatic Scholarship Preprint (http://www.scribd.com/doc/16729272/Toward-Digital
-Numismatic-Scholarship-Preprint.)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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