To have a complete picture of digital preservation, it helps to look at other activities that have a very real impact – digital conversion being a good example. We recently welcomed a new colleague who is already making a difference with this effort, Steven Puglia, who recently joined the Library of Congress as Digital Conversion Services Manager in the Office of Strategic Initiatives. In this capacity, he will be providing technical expertise for a wide range of projects involving the conversion of analog materials to digital.
A bit about his background – Steve started his preservation career duplicating historic negative collections for the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts. After getting his MFA in Photography from the University of Delaware, he worked as a Preservation and Imaging Specialist in the reformatting labs at the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) from 1988 to April 2011, most recently as a manager. Also, he had a short interlude working at the Library of Congress previously, from 1991 to 1992 in the Preservation Directorate.
Prior to his recent appointment here, Steve collaborated on many projects with the Library over the years. Most recently, this included major contributions to the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI), launched in 2007. To date, there are 18 federal agencies participating in FADGI, and, as coordinator of the Still Image Working Group, Steve hopes to involve even more agencies in the future.
Working on preservation and reformatting for more than 25 years, along with being involved in digitizing collections for more than 15 years, provides Steve a lot of perspective on the importance of digital preservation and the relationship to digitization efforts. He says that “preservation is a long-term management process, and digital preservation in particular requires a life-cycle perspective and active management.” He stresses the importance of producing quality, well-defined digital objects ( or items) – and that good decisions and good documentation up-front will enhance digital preservation over the long-term. “This will also help with specific preservation actions, like transformations, upon ingest into digital repositories – one area where the concerns and work of NDIIPP and FADGI converge.”
He also notes that decisions made during the planning stages of digital collections should be informed by many of the same criteria used for preservation decisions within digital repositories. Aspects like file format sustainability are important when deciding what formats will be used for digital objects produced in digitization projects. Recently, FADGI convened a File Format Sub-Group to consider these types of issues and provide guidance.
According to Steve, a lot of work has gone into creating technical guidelines for achieving high-quality information capture of analog materials to digital, through efforts like the FADGI Still Image Working Group. With the assistance of industry experts, the working group developed the Digital Image Conformance Evaluation (DICE) targets and software, used for analyzing the performance of scanners – a very technical process. He says the next steps include working to make the technical concepts behind these tools better understood by less technical audiences, along with further development of the tools so they are easier to work with and more suited to process monitoring and quality management.
Steve said, “I see part of my role here as continuing educational and outreach efforts to the broader community, as well as internally within the Library.” From an educational perspective, he says it’s important to take what is learned about best practices and present the concepts and information in ways that help people understand better how to use available technology. Steve gives frequent presentations, and has written many published articles on digitization and related topics. Some examples include “Choosing and Using Digitization Technologies”, “Economic Sustainability of Mass Deacidification, Low-temperature Storage, and Large-scale Digitization”, “Digitization and Digital Preservation”, and co-author of “Digitization Activities – Project Planning and Management Outline.
He plans to continue presenting and writing, and already has provided a guest post for this blog on the recent JPEG 2000 Summit hosted at the Library of Congress.
Stay tuned to “The Signal” for more to come on digitization and FADGI activities in the future.