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A Fine View at the Summit of JP2

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The following is a guest post by Steve Puglia, Manager of Conversion Support Services at the Library of Congress.

When you work at the Library of Congress on digital preservation projects, you know you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to (and sometimes learn about) new and exciting endeavors in the realm of technology and content preservation.  In the case of the recent JPEG 2000 Summit, attending this meeting was one of those times when we learned a lot about the technical side of standards and formats in digital preservation.

Steve Puglia
Steve Puglia welcomes attendees to the JPEG 2000 Summit. Credit: Barry Wheeler

On May 12-13, 2011, the Library of Congress hosted a two-day meeting on JPEG 2000.  The inspiration for the summit was the JPEG 2000 for the Practitioner seminar (Part 1 and Part 2) held at the Wellcome Library in London in November 2010, and the genesis was discussion of JPEG 2000 within the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI – pronounced fad-jee) Still Image Working Group.

So, if you’re like us, we knew what a “JPEG” is, but what exactly is a “JPEG 2000?” To those outside of preservation arena, it sounds a little like a sci-fi movie or a programming language, doesn’t it?  But for those of us in the field, we know it is a type of compression and an image file standard, similar to a .jpeg.

The practical differences between the two are JPEG 2000 allows for a “lossless” version (traditional JPEG always throws out data permanently), allows for files with multiple resolution and quality layers (with the right web server software, this enables features like zooming and panning in browsers) and has a more efficient approach to compressing images (creating smaller files that look better).  JPEG 2000, or JP2, is being used as the file format for cultural heritage digitization projects, but many people are not that familiar with it.  From a digital preservation perspective, ideally we want to archive digital files in formats based on best practices for preservation and long-term access to the content – this Summit was a chance to learn about JPEG 2000, to consider the digital preservation perspective and to think about when to use it for digitization projects.

Rob Buckley
Robert Buckley provides a tutorial on the wonders of JPEG 2000. Credit: Barry Wheeler

At the summit, JPEG 2000 users, developers, and other interested parties – from non-profits, the Federal sector and international institutions – gathered for two days of education, information sharing, discussion and planning related to the current state of JPEG 2000 implementation and the digitization of cultural heritage materials.

The program began with a half-day educational session conducted by Robert Buckley, which was followed by presentations that afternoon and the morning of the following day.  The summit concluded on the afternoon of the second day with a working session to identify key objectives and collaborations for broadening the understanding and use of the technology.

The goal of the summit was to discuss the following topics:

  • The thought process and rationale for a decision to adopt and implement JPEG 2000.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using JPEG 2000, and when using JPEG 2000 makes sense.
  • Identify the barriers to adoption and implementation for organizations interested in JPEG 2000.
  • Ways for the community to overcome barriers to adoption – identify what is needed to make adoption and implementation practical and feasible for organizations that decide JPEG 2000 is a good match for their needs and goals.
  • Identify those who are willing to work on these efforts and how to move forward.
JPEG 2000 meeting working group
The working group session gets underway with breakout discussions on ways to move forward. Credit: Barry Wheeler

We listened to a lot of discussion.  The group felt it was important to focus on the barriers to adoption and to address concerns expressed within the community.  In general, we heard that the perception of problems/issues with JPEG 2000 may not match reality – organizations need a clear understanding of their needs and when JPEG 2000 will meet those needs.  There was a lot of interest in looking at the potential for developing more robust and easier to use open-source software tools for creating and using JPEG 2000.

All in all, an informative meeting and encouraging to see and to hear so many professionals in the field who care about, and who can express the importance of, formats and standards for digital preservation.

Comments (6)

  1. I definitely believe in preserving history via digital archives. It’s Just one of the many ways mass technology can be used to reach the masses.

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  2. Thank you for this trove of excellent material. I can’t wait to read everything. I recently visited Packard Campus of the LOC on a visit from Italy and am trying to formulate a plan to digitize our large moving image collection of our organization using JPEG2000. Currently we are digitizing with the proprietory based IMX50. This is just the community I was looking for. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Will there be a published follow-up to the summit? I am using JPG2000 on a limited basis for preserving digital images, and would like to learn more about the details of the discussion and possible answers to the questions posed, particularly “The advantages and disadvantages of using JPEG 2000, and when using JPEG 2000 makes sense.”

    • As a follow-up to the summit, we have created a web page on the FADGI site ( on which the presentations and various links to resources and tools have been posted. We are currently reviewing a draft report on the summit and will be posting that on the same site as soon as it is finalized. We will also be adding more information to this site as it becomes available.

  4. After spending literally hours trying to find some way to view or convert the JP2 files from the LoC’s map collection, I have to surrender and assume the Library of Congress doesn’t want me to have access to any of these images. Why on Earth would an organization whose mission is to make information available to the public adopt an esoteric file format that requires third-party applications and plugins to view? Academic e-librarians have crawled too far up their own navels with this JPEG 2000 nonsense – which wouldn’t be a big deal except that they took the LoC map collection with them!

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