A Study into the Effect of Digitisation Projects on the Management and Stability of Historic Photograph Collections

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Abstract

The results of an ongoing interview study with custodians of historic photograph collections are reported. In particular the success or otherwise of recent digitisation projects is addressed, as well as the extent to which these projects have affected the long term management of the collections. We examine the effects of digitisation on the primary sources, their digitised surrogates and the relationship between the two in terms of selection, authenticity and representation. In most cases we have observed that the emphasis placed by the funding bodies on ‘accessibility’ of tangible numbers of resources is detrimental to these three other issues. However, we report in detail on one case study of a local history library where its digitisation work is embedded in core library activity and seen as successful and positive. We conclude by suggesting that their deliberate eschewing of short term project funding is a determining factor in their success.