Can I destroy my originals after I digitize them?
People sometime wonder if they can save room in their collections by destroying the original documents after they have been digitized. Let's consider the implications.
- What if the digital assets were not created correctly and are problematic? If you have destroyed the originals, then you cannot go back and re-digitize them.
- What if the digital assets are corrupted or destroyed...and for some reason you cannot use the digital backups? If you have destroyed the originals, again you cannot go back and re-digitize.
- What if someone wants to see the original item because they want to inspect the paper, ink, etc.? If you've destroyed the original item, then they can't do that.
- What if you destroy the original item under the assumption that another institution is keeping their copy of the original item? If you do that, recognize that the other institution may decide to get of theirs, leaving only the digital copies for anyone to use.
- What if you keep only the digital assets, but do not properly maintain and preserve them? Then you may end up with nothing, since digital assets can easily be corrupted and then you'll have nothing (neither version).
- Storing them off-site or in compact storage.
- Donating them to an institution that values the original items.
- Checking to see if there are other copies available in the world and understand their long-term disposition first before deciding what to do with your original hardcopy materials.
- Microfilming and digitizing them, then placing the microfilm in an archive. We know that microfilm can last for a long, long time under proper conditions. Microfilm can be read without computer technology. It can be digitized.
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