Where have you been?
There's been a huge scandal in the library world for some time now about the destruction (throwing away) or paper copies and keeping only the microfilm/microfiche and now digital versions. But paper lasts for thousands of years. We are still finding paper in archaeological sites in Egypt with lost ancient Greek plays and other writing on them, all still viable, all still readable. Paper and vellum are both tough materials. I have read medieval parchment documents that are still whole. entire, and clear, while my microfilm version of the same documents is already degrading, due to not being able to store it in optimal conditions.
We have already seen formats of the last fifty years change, become obsolete, and become unreadable. I am sure other Reg readers will name them. I found a 3.5 inch disk the other month but my all-card reader, which I retained for just such a possibility, gave up trying to read it, and so all those data are lost.
I am all for copies of material. I would rather students read Austen online or on a Kindle than to keep requesting the original edition at the British Library, where they do not say no and are thus allowing these books to be thumbed to pieces by the merely curious. The idea of a single copy of anything makes my blood run cold.
I do share the disquiet of other Reg readers on who is doing this digitising. Already in the USA and Europe there is deep concern about handing the only digital version to a company that exists to make profit. France is digitising its own patrimony itself, while the UK merrily hands it to an international company whose HQ is in a country that interprets copyright to its own benefit. The British Library was recently exposed as actually throwing out books. It seems that we cannot trust these librarians to understand that they are the custodians of all materials in their collection. I see these latest deals as the little lambs of the BL wagging their tails as they skip to the slaughter.