National Library of Australia Staff Papers, 2012

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Getting the whole picture: Finding a common language between digital preservation and conservation

Douglas Elford, Lisa Jeong-Reuss, Somaya Langley, Melanie Wilkinson

Abstract


From the outset, digital preservation and conservation seem to be two very different professions. This paper explores the idea that both traditional and digital conservators not only have many commonalties but also an invaluable knowledge bank of their own areas of expertise, which should be shared between these seemingly distinct communities. Preservation Services and the Digital Preservation team from the National Library of Australia (NLA) discuss the commonalities between the two professions. Digital preservation is a relatively young and innovative discipline, while conservation has undergone its own phases of growth and innovation to become a profession that is steeped in tried and tested methodologies and techniques. This analysis of the common challenges shared by the Conservation team and the Digital Preservation team at the NLA illustrates the lessons that can be learned and shared between the two. With multiple linkages between digital preservation and conservation, the common ethos that both communities are committed to preserving culture and heritage emerges and is defined. Practitioners working in conservation and digital preservation need to commit to a holistic approach to preserving collections. Preservation practitioners all work towards ensuring the longevity of cultural collections using a variety of methods, approaches, tools and principles, and only the formats of these collections differ.

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