Libraries and Archives

Preserving history

It is an irony that the computer revolution has made it harder, not easier, to preserve our works. Today we can read a Shakespeare play written 400 years ago, but we can't read a word processing document that we saved 5 years ago.

The digital medium might preserve a perfect copy of a document, but what good is that if 50 years from now nobody has a copy of Word 97 to read it with? The computer revolution is not 50 years old. The first PC appeared 25 years ago. Windows 95 appeared 10 years ago. Documents written 5 years ago are usually unreadable today. How can we hope to preserve information that people can read 400 years from now?

How OpenDocument can preserve today's records

Library of Congress Sustainability Factors and ODF

A 3-page handout based on the material in this section of the website is available in both ODT and PDF:
Download as ODT
Download as PDF