With Montana joining the growing number of states with digital library archives, researchers from all over the world can now access state documents without buying a plane ticket to the “last best place.”
Since 2008, the Montana State Library has digitized 8.7 terabytes of information, or over 23,000 historical state documents. The documents go back to the 1800s, and one can find everything from local newspapers to bear management plans. Researchers have already downloaded 3.5 million documents, State Publications Librarian Jim Kammerer said.
But some question if these digital files are as durable as paper and microfilm. University of Montana librarians say to ensure lasting access to digital publications, there must be constant diligence on preservation. Should they get corrupted or their formats outdated, a piece of information can be lost forever.
For now, online accessibility trumps longevity. So historians hoping to get in some fly-fishing while on a research trip to Montana should hide this article from their funders.