The Digitization Decision: Factors to Consider When Converting Material to Digital Format
Digitization is perhaps the most prevalent issue facing contemporary archivists. While converting items to digital format can result in enormous benefits for both users and institutions, it also presents a number of challenges. Benefits include an increase in access to material, enhanced quality of access, expanded search and browsing options, a decrease in some costs, improved preservation, and less use of physical storage space. Challenges involve evaluation of hardware and software, adhering to copyright law, preventing unauthorized duplication of items, preparing material for the actual digitization process, creation and storage of newly required metadata, and training staff to deal with digital items. All of these challenges result in the expenditure of significant time, money, and human resources. Thus, it is imperative to analyze whether the expected benefits of a potential digitization project will outweigh associated costs.
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