Library Science

Digitization and digital preservation

What is Digitization?

Witten and David (2003) defined digitization as the process of taking traditional library materials, that are in the form of books and papers and converting them to the electronic form, where they can be stored and manipulated by a computer. This basically involves changing analog data into a digital form, so that it is easier to access and also has a long study life. This process is not a separate activity to be viewed in isolation, but an active part of a library’s functioning.

As the main purposes of libraries are to acquire and preserve material, for the perusal of those who seek information, the benefit of having this material in digital form is quite obvious. The bulk of such information from varied sources can be stored in digital form using technology and can be kept for a long period of time in a better condition, while at the same time can be easily studied by greater numbers of scholars, in a present time period.Digitization and digital preservation

The major concern of today’s libraries is in the preservation of precious literary works, those are or have deteriorated alarmingly, and whose preservation is a costly and time-consuming process. While getting all these works, from various libraries, into a digitized form, the libraries save in time and effort on the conservation of these works; preserve them more effectively, while ensuring that all this material is still available at any time for perusal.

Finally, it can be stated that digitization is mainly the process of conversion of written or printed records into electronic form. This can also be in audio imagery are a combination of above-mentioned forms. The electronic output so created can then be placed on modern information providing systems like the internet or intranet. This electronic output can also be in a Portable Document Format (PDF) on a Tagged Image File Format (TIFF).

It therefore now common, to find more and more information being digitized, and uploaded into the internet or on compact discs so that it is globally accessible, easily and quickly.

Digital Preservation:

With rapid developments in information technology and communication systems, the organization and management of such information has also undergone major transformation (Mazumdar, 2009)

This has had a profound effect on library and information centers, mainly in the field of preservation, using digital methods on non-digital documents. Conservation of digital resources to preserve our heritage can occur in many forms, be it in digital images, e-journals, database records, websites, audio-visual material or interactive programs.

Preservation can be defined as a set of activities to ensure maintenance for a long time of documents, and also making ready accessibility incorporating latest technological advantages.

The Encyclopedia of Information Technology (Amjad, 2005) defines the term digital preservation as “The process of maintaining, in a condition suitable for use, materials produced in digital formats. Problems of physical preservation are compounded by the obsolescence of computer equipment, software, and storage media. It also refers to the practice of digitizing materials, originally produced in non-digital formats (print, film, etc.), to prevent permanent loss due to deterioration of the physical medium.”

Hence digital preservation has two dimensions, firstly to preserve the material already in digital form and secondly to digitize and preserve material that is likely to get spoilt with time. Once this is done, then accessibility on a global scale of any material can be achieved. For such preservation, two processes are followed,

a. To create an image file of the material.

b. To scan and use processes to make the text file error free.

Once done these files can be stored in secondary devices and placed in appropriate storage areas.


This article collected from:

  • Seifi, L. (2011). Digitization and digital preservation of the heritage collection in select libraries in India and Iran: a comparative study.
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Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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