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SEPIA: Photographic collections in a digital age

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Photographic collections in a digital age

An international conference at the
Public Record Office, London
12-14 September 2000

The Public Record Office will be hosting a conference in September 2000 as
part of the project Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access
(SEPIA) funded under the European Union's Framework Programme in support of
Culture. The conference's aim will be to bring together those responsible
for photographic collections (such as curators, librarians and
conservators) and experts in photography and digital imaging. The focus
will be on issues that must be considered in increasing Europe-wide access
to collections of photographic materials while ensuring the preservation of
those same materials for future generations.

Image digitisation has had a dramatic impact on the ability of institutions
holding photographic collections to reach out to all sectors of society,
and policy-makers at both national and European levels are keen to see it
employed on a large scale. Many people have been unaware until now of the
wealth of material being preserved, often at public expense, and of the
images of an often vanished world that are available for them to see and
use. Institutions can now grant unheard-of remote access as an extension to
their on-site reading facilities while reducing the handling and
environmental changes that result in damage to precious and fragile
originals. The apparent simplicity of the process is misleading, though,
and may lead to expensive mistakes and disappointing results. Projects
still need careful preparation, and expertise from both traditional and
digital environments has to be shared.

The conference will look at issues like:
- how to reconcile the varying requirements and exploit the differing
skills of libraries, museums and archives
- aims of digitisation
- technical requirements, image quality, image enhancement
- selection criteria, user requirements
- preservation of originals in relation to digitisation
- cataloguing, descriptive methods, metadata, long-term management of
digital images
- workflow, costs, organisational issues, training

Speakers will be experts from Europe and the USA. Apart from plenary
papers, there will be small group sessions on topics like: conservation and
preservation measures for large collections of original photographs;
requirements for digital imaging; the ethics of digital
imaging/enhancement/restoration and copyright. A trade exhibition of
suppliers of relevant products will be organised, and one afternoon will be
spent visiting institutions with significant photographic collections and
expertise in their preservation.

For more information, contact Tim Padfield , Public Record Office, Kew,
Richmond, TW9 4DU, UK, e. tim.padfield@pro.gov.uk , t. ++44 20 8876 3444
ext 2351, f. ++44 20 8392 5295 or consult the SEPIA website