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Three benefits of creating a digital art archive

by Georgina McDowall on

From saving space to diversifying audiences, the benefits of creating a digital art archive are numerous and suitable for all varieties of archiving institutions. Here are some of’s top reasons for digitizing archival collections.

Librarians and archivists know what treasures their physical archives hold. They also know how much of their collection remains unseen. Digitization can help to optimize archives and bring their contents to more people.

1. Increase collection access with an online archive

Grant greater access to materials by creating a digitized archive. Digitization alleviates people’s need to travel to archive locations and archivists’ concerns about delicate materials. Publishing archives online enables people to view them where it is suitable for them and brings rare or fragile items that cannot be physically displayed into public view. Expanding access is vital for creating more inclusive archives.

Libraries and archives with digital collections attract more researchers by making their work more efficient. Searchable digital archives connect researchers with the resources they need. Researchers can focus on forging connections between pieces of information and drawing innovative conclusions. Institutions that make their collections digitally available support scholarly work and gain deeper insight into their histories.

Incorporate optical character recognition (OCR) technology into digitized archives to create access through searchability. With OCR, users can locate keywords and phrases throughout all of the holdings – just like using a search engine — and skip through documents to find what is most relevant to them.

2. Optimize resources by digitizing archival collections 

Keep collection data safe and secure with digital tools. Physical archives are vulnerable to damage from uncontrollable forces such as conflict, water leaks, fire, or theft. Duplicate digitized archival collections and store them in multiple locations. uses a secure cloud-based storage system that protects users’ information against hackers and total system failures.

Make careful use of space by digitizing archival collections. Once digitized, physical records can be stored compactly – shrinking storage needs to save space and money. Digital archives can also be consulted remotely, meaning libraries and archives can adopt a more flexible approach to visitor facilities. This makes digitization a great space (and budget) saving solution for resource-savvy institutions.

Digitizing archival collections can also reduce an institution’s carbon footprint. Think of all the energy required to store physical collections under specific climate-controlled conditions and the raw materials necessary to produce physical catalogs and books. Digital collections allow readers and researchers to leave materials untouched and produce publications using fewer natural resources. When used mindfully, digital tools are gentler on the environment. 

3. Digitize archival collections to extend an institution’s reach

Digitizing archival collections protects physical artifacts and documents while keeping them available for regular consultation. This maintains access to archival information without causing physical deterioration. Digital copies can be printed and used in place of popular materials. Digital archives are a great way to preserve and keep collections in use for years.

Libraries and archives that promote themselves by publishing an online archive future-proof their operations. Get creative and encourage others to use materials in unique contexts. Use them to create a digital exhibition on the institution's website or as social media content. Sharing highlights online is the best way to attract new and more diverse audiences to use archival collections.

Decide what materials to make public and when with a digitized archive. It’s up to each institution to decide whether to create an online archive or an internal database. The public access feature gives users granular control over what people see. They decide what information remains for internal use and what content goes out into the world.

Ready to create a digitized archive? Managing, using, and publishing digitized archives becomes simpler thanks to tools like


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