Strolling around a gallery or museum, it’s easy to see why we need to look after paintings and sculptures for future generations. But we often forget that all round the country there are boxes of audio and visual recordings tucked away in dusty storerooms and warehouses. They’re just as important to our heritage – maybe even more so.
As good as a time machineImagine if Winston Churchill’s famous ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech only existed as a transcript because the original had rotted away in a drawer somewhere. Or if the footage of Emily Davison’s tragic protest for votes for women at the 1913 Epsom Derby disappeared – because the equipment to play it doesn’t exist anymore. Listening to or watching powerful material like this is as near to time travel as we’re likely to get (at least for the moment). So it’s vital we carry on preserving it for future generations. Thanks to digitisation, we’re lucky enough to be able to do just that. And once it’s done, it’s safe indefinitely.
More than just future-proofingIt’s not just about preservation. Some of the other advantages of digitisation are:
- People using digital copies means less handling of the originals – so fragile and valuable material will last longer and keep its value
- Anyone with an internet connection can see or listen to content in the archives – content that previously only people who could travel to its physical location would be able to see
- Electronic cataloguing makes it straightforward to search – so we’ll always know exactly which treasures we have.