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.
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.
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.
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.