Digitisation: Maintaining Digital Collections

Have you ever lost parts of your life (e.g. photos, documents, essays, etc.) because your computer let out its last sigh and shut down, not giving you a chance to save your work and memories – or to at least say goodbye? If not, either you are unbelievably lucky, or thoughtful enough to have taken preventive measures to avoid this heartbreaking experience. If you have got burnt once or twice, you probably eventually acquired the habit of zealously protecting your files by backing them up on several devices and online platforms. As computers entered our daily lives over the past few decades, most regular computer users developed strategies to safeguard their digital records from the whims of chance. Fewer are aware, however, of two other threats – the processes of decay and obsolescence.

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Digitisation: Introduction

This is the first in a series of informative blog posts aimed at illuminating the production and use of digitised materials. The posts are part of a larger project for creating sustainable digital learning materials, supported by EDINA, the Centre for Research Collections and the Centre for the History of the Book.


Nowadays, it is highly unlikely that you will encounter a university student who has never had to deal with digital materials: at the very least, they browsed the online catalogue of the university library to find the physical resources they needed. The digital has entered academia in various forms. Many university libraries now simply subscribe to the online editions of academic journals, rather than accumulate piles of the physical issues. Digital collections are created and presented on the libraries’ websites, allowing ready access for more users regardless of geographical distance. Whole books can be found online or in ebook form. Technically speaking, some students might not even have to set foot in the library. The computer screen can be the window to all the resources they need.

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