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Steven Puglia, Connecting Digital Conversion with Digital Preservation

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Steven Puglia (Photo by Barry Wheeler)

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.

Comments (6)

  1. Steve is missed at NARA! Besides his years of experience in digital preservation and digitization efforts, he has the rare combination of expert technical knowledge and the ability to convey such concepts to less technically-minded colleagues.

  2. As a hobby photographer in his late 60s, preserving (my personal) still photos in accessible formats for my family is important to me. I have come to realize that the products of (historical) technologies would certainly benefit from easy and affordable conversion into current digital formats. For the ordinary person ‘recording’ life via camera, integrating visual material into a viewable format is virtually impossible with a limited pocketbook and a limited agenda. Nonetheless, I read this article introducing Mr Puglia with interest. It helped me realize again that preserving information is time- and brain-intensive. What link(s) can you provide for the amateur?

  3. I would like to know more about promote policy of digital preservation. I study this problem because i want to write a paper about that.

  4. Thanks for the great comment. A good place to start when exploring Personal Archiving issues is on our web page:

  5. In answer to hc Macfarland, there are some free photo apps.

    this just one that is available to those on a limited income. For a nominal amount one can purchase the means to 1. take photos, phones have great capabilities and they also are able to send via email to yourself or someone else. Where they can be downloaded to : a file on your computer or a hard drive that is dedicated to your photos and in combination with sound if you like.
    Roxio creator suite offers a number of apps. under the name of Creator suite 10 here is the link:,2817,2194635,00.asp

    If you own an Apple computer it comes with a lot of applications with it . (I don’t want to look like I am pushing One product over another.)

    If you think that some of this stuff ; ) is too complicated. Well , at first is kinda is , BUT it seems hard because it is new to you, this is especially true to older people that are not in tune with the digital age. I know the feeling because I am a little older (63) .
    I went back to school and started learning about some of this new computer; My son used to laugh at me and now all he can see is tail lights, dad is smokin the lad ; ).

    I have found that, most of the applications share many common features so it’s not like too many things to learn.

    Your filing system is of paramount importance, you have to understand some pretty simple yet important hierarchy, so you know where you are downloading your subject matter; your subject matter can be 1). photos JPG files (joint Photographer Group) this is the format they picked to use and you can transmit them through the internet attached to emails. The little button you see there that says attachment once clicked it allows you to open up your computer’s hard drives and search for something to attach, a word file, a picture file , a sound file. 2). Sound files mp3 this is a format that you can send over the internet because they aren’t too big. There is a limit to how much information can be sent. There are other formats WAV ( Windows Audio Visual ) but you can’t send them email but you can exchange
    them with the help of sites like Drop Box which is a free application here is the link to it:

    So I don’t get too long winded here , check into
    taking a class, remember anything new and not understood seems daunting , once you start getting familiar it get easier and fun. Jump in there and who knows you might write a book about your experience. I have found that some of those books for Dummies , don’t take offense, have been a great help, I own one for creator suite that I mentioned earlier and one for playing piano.

    I have been taking classes for sound and video for a number of years , just a class or two at a time, and I’m a certified operator in sound recording software called Pro-Tools an Avid company , this is the De facto standard world wide for sound recording software. I have just recently achieved this status, but I have video in my sights now and have already taken some classes toward this objective. So I will build and keep on building till the Reaper comes. Untill then Good Luck and remember we are all just a little piece of God.

    look at a computer as a great big book that you can explorer and even write a few chapters on your own.

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