21st Annual Preservation Conference

Managing the Intangible: Creating, Storing and Retrieving Digital Surrogates of Historical Materials


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Dates: Monday, April 30 and
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Times: Program Schedule

UMUC Inn and Conference Center
3501 University Boulevard, East
Adelphi, Maryland 20783

About the Conference

In 2003, the National Archives hosted a preservation conference to examine analog versus digital reformatting methods and to debate whether the latter is an acceptable preservation medium. In 2006, we found that the debate is indeed over, for national and international organizations have endorsed digital surrogates as an accepted preservation option and have begun digitizing a wide variety of historical materials. Questions however, abound.

This conference gave attendees an opportunity to hear a comprehensive discussion on the essential components of the digital preservation reformatting process. It benefited attendees involved with any and all media types, for there are common issues that have implications on reformatting decisions and the approaches taken. This conference also benefited institutions that are contemplating entering, or have just entered, the digital arena by providing a forum to examine reformatting in its entirety instead of focusing just on a narrow slice of the process.

The conference was organized in a two-day format. The first day was devoted to more formal presentations while the second was a combination of panel discussions and venues allowing for more interaction between attendees and presenters.


Presentations included:

  • Keynote - Goals of reformatting and exploring where digitization is an appropriate option
  • The analog to digital conversion process that crosses media types
  • Tools, workflows and skills which are necessary to make digitization as efficient and economical as analog
  • Storage media choices, the concept of managed storage and what is required to ensure their safety
  • Actions needed to facilitate retrieval of digital surrogates, especially through the use of metadata
  • Ongoing infrastructure costs associated with digitization
  • Implications of digitization for preservation programs and historical institutions in general

View PDF versions of select presentations.

There was a reception following the presentations on the first day in addition to an exhibit by vendors who provide products and services to the historic preservation field.

Moderated discussions comprised the second day's program and allowed specialists within media types to exchange information more specific to their areas of expertise. The two sessions will were: Static media (still photography, textual and cartographic records, microfilm) and dynamic media (audio, video and motion pictures).