Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2014


digitization, preservation, photography collections


Film-based photographic collections of nitrate negatives pose major challenges to preservation and access because of unstable media and the lack of item-level indexing. Digitization offers an opportunity to capture the content of deteriorating negatives, to extend access to them, and to restore their usefulness as information resources. Digitization as a preservation strategy has been the subject of ongoing debate. This article contributes to the discussion by exploring access to and the preservation of film-based photographic collections and by presenting the digiti- zation project at the American Geographical Society Library as a case study. The project, Saving and Sharing the AGS Library’s Historic Nitrate Negative Images, was undertaken from 2010 to 2012 to preserve and provide access to over 69,000 nitrate negatives from its historic collections.