The National Software Reference Library (NSRL) is not a lending library, but in December of 2004, they bent the rules to help the Food and Drug Administration save lives.
In response, the FDA immediately gathered the names and addresses of those that had received the misprocessed botox via a data file created on a 2003 version of a popular business software application. Using the only version of the software available to them - the 2004 version - the agents were unable to open the data file and retrieve the information they needed.
Fortunately, one of the agents was familiar with the National Software Reference Library. Even more fortunately, the NSRL had the 2003 version of the software and was able to hand it off to an agent who immediately put it on the next flight to Miami. You can read more about this incident in the Library of Congress (2013) Preserving.exe: Toward a National Strategy for Software Preservation Report.
Software preservation saved lives. This is a dramatic example, to be sure, but one that speaks to the immediate and increasing importance of preserving both the object and the environment that renders an object meaningful.
To that end, the Software Preservation Network is creating a space where organizations from industry, academia, government, cultural heritage, and the public sphere can contribute their myriad skills and capabilities toward collaborative solutions that will ensure persistent access to all software and all software-dependent objects. Our goal is to make it easier to deposit, discover, and reuse software.
As SPN transitions this Fall from an exclusively grant-funded and in-kind support model to a self-sustaining member-driven organization, I hope you will consider joining our growing community of practice. You can learn more about SPN’s accomplishments, our plans for the future, and how to join and support this community through our newly released Software Preservation Network Prospectus.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly ([log in to unmask]) or to Jessica Meyerson ([log in to unmask]). We will be accepting applications for organizational memberships and sponsorships through December 14, 2018.
to manage your NDSA-ALL subscription, visit ndsa.org/ndsa-all