Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Make hardcopy surrogates from your digital assets

When you digitize materials, you are doing so in order to increase access. We often hope that digitization will also lessen handling on some of our hardcopy materials. But if digitization doesn't lessen their handling, why not make hardcopy surrogates from the digital assets?

In the 1990s, digitization was done at a Vatican library of extremely old materials that were still in use. After being digitized, hardcopy surrogates were made that looked exactly like the originals and those surrogates were places on the shelf. The originals were then placed in an archive.

Another library digitized a book and created many hardcopy surrogates that they sold as a fundraiser.

Could you be making hardcopy surrogates from your digital assets? If yes, what would you do with them? What benefits would your institution derive from them? Something to consider...


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4 comments:

Ben W. Brumfield said...

Something I am constantly reminded when I deal with users in the family history community is that hardcopy IS part of access. There are simply some people who need printouts of some or all of your asset, and they'll do a print-screen if you don't provide them a better mechanism.

Ben said...

I think all of us want to believe that preservation of digital objects, despite the inherent difficulties, can be achieved. But when you consider the long-term, not just the changing technological landscape, but also the implications of the "expanding digital universe" (now estimated at 281 exabytes, and soon to exceed storage capacities), and the immense future energy requirements (computer server farms are one day expected to produce the majority of American greenhouse gasses), it's hard to feel that preservation can be accomplished in any complete or sustainable manner. We'll keep trying, of course, but perhaps in the back of our minds we should keep your option in mind.

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Ben, I don't see this as being used for every digital asset, but an option in some cases (as I described). You're right, though, that ensuring the long-term accessibility of our digital assets is growing in importance as our volume of all digital assets grows.

Ben said...

Agreed, Jill. Librarians and the like will have to use their powers of selection judiciously!