collections of a memory institution. Secondly, the Digital Representation Implementation
Plan (DRIP) provides a step-by-step plan for implementing digitisation, doing one bit at a
time. Behind this methodology stands the notion of sustainability, i.e. how to get the best
out of a digital collection in the future.
Analyse first digitise later: The Picture Archive of the Austrian National
The hype of ,,going digital" usually ends in view of mile-long archive shelves of large
collections.The Picture Archive is Austria's largest picture documentation centre and the
centre for orderings of digital images of all holdings and collections of the Austrian
National Library (ANL).The biggest challenge for restructuring the archive and
introducing digital services was managing mass data: about 2 million image objects and a
card catalogue comprising about 1.2 million meta data.
"Analyse first" was the motto of the first stage of the "Digital Image Archive" project
which began in 1999. Employees of the collection and the project team gathered in weekly
editorial meetings and closely analysed and documented system and structure of the archive
and especially of the collection's card catalogue. Based on this analysis, the ANL developed a
software which enables semi-automatic indexing of library catalogues in international card
format. During 6 months, 5 project members produced 1.2 million meta data which
formed the basis for the establishment of an Internet platform. Since July 2001 the entire
holdings of the archive are accessible via the Internet.
Via an online ordering system, users can search the library's image catalogue, save their
search results and order image objects of all collections of the National Library which are
digitised on demand. Since November 2001 the library offers a digitisation service which
enables the production of high-resolution archival scans under ideal preservation
That means that the basis has been laid for a systematic digitisation of objects in the
Picture Archive of the Austrian National Library. Four archives dealing with contemporary
history will participate in a comprehensive co-operation project, which will start in January
2002, using the Picture Archive's infrastructure and aiming at the establishment of a nation-
The example of the Picture Archive of the ANL shows that it is possible even for large
historical archives to get a functioning digital basis provided that systematic archive analyses
and exact project planning take place.
Quality of digitisation
Another issue that should be addressed by a digitisation policy is the quality of the end
result.Today, the most commonly used approaches to digitisation distinguish between
quality produced for access and quality for preservation:
access-oriented selection aims at immediate supply and delivery and results in
thumbnails and low resolution images; and secondly,
collection-oriented selection aims at preserving and conserving and results in high-
resolution images in print quality that are archived.
Although quite common, these approaches are primarily based on a lack of trust that can
be sensed throughout the cultural heritage community, who are not willing to publish
high-resolution images on the web out of fear of copyright infringements.
ON THE RAD