Archives & Museum Informatics
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The Effect of Digital Technology on the Control of and Access to a Photographic Collection

Clare Birdsey , University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Ralph Jacobson , University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Andy Golding , University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Session: Conservation Data Recording

The Digital Image Archive (DIA) project involves the production of a digital archive of a small collection of nineteenth century photographic images and equipment. The DIA was designed to operate as a public access catalogue to aid curators with information retrieval and to reduce the need to handle original material. Much of the William Henry Fox Talbot collection at the Royal Photographic Society can no longer be exhibited due to damage caused by handling and light. Access to the collection is restricted because of preservation concerns over a growing percentage of the collection and insufficient resources for reproducitons and supervision. These problems led to investigations into the possible advantages that digital technology might offer. Cross-referencing, administrative cataloguing and recording of preservation techniques are ideally suited to digital technology. The short life span of digital storage media and concerns over compatibility requires the development of a complex long-term digital strategy that must be standardized if the archival material is to survive. Construction of the DIA involved investigations into software and hardware configurations concentrating on the ability to customize factors such as indexing from recognized standards and practices. This paper concentrates on the results of a survey into standards within digital indexing systems, which indicates that although there is a growing awareness of standardization within digital cataloguing and multimedia, many organizations continue to devise independent systems.