The Digital Statement

Recommendations for digitization, restoration, digital preservation and access


The Technical Commission has been asked by various archives to define best practices for digitization and access. The guideline Choosing a Film Scanner, published online in 2012 by the FIAF Technical Commission, is also available.

This Digital Statement continues the previous work and sets out recommendations for the digitization, digital restoration, preservation and access to film collections, in agreement with the FIAF Code of Ethics published in 1994. The code of ethics was created with the main purpose of respecting, preserving and providing access to the most accurate reproduction of a film. The statement will eventually encompass scanning, restoration and mastering and preservation of data.

The Statement is in multiple parts: the first part is dedicated to digitization practices, in reference to articles 1.4, 1.5 and 1.7 of the FIAF Code of Ethics; the second part complements the Digital Preservation Principles published previously by the FIAF Technical commission.

This set of recommendations is designed to offer concepts and digital specifications for archivists and curators as part of collections management planning. Further reading and additional sources can also be found in the footnotes of this document and within the Scanner Forum in the Members’ Section of the FIAF website. In this sense, as our understanding of evolving technologies and their practical and restoration-ethical concerns deepens, this document is not only a work in progress, but more than that, also a call for discussion within the archival community and for ongoing dialogue with the scanner manufacturers, a call for more transparency from the latter and an appeal to preservationists also.

The FIAF Technical Commission is aware that it performs multiple functions: on one hand, it serves to recommend and advise on technical quality, and should be uncompromising in its advice, so that the FIAF community can count on its technical expertise. On the other hand, reality sets in: every archive in the world struggles in varying degrees to meet its commitments, often with limited resources. In this regard, the TC would like to acknowledge that the technically ideal solution is often not attainable for archives. In this Digital Statement, the TC will try to address both issues: the technically ideal and the realistic. The TC hopes that this will be useful to the reader. 

Part I - Digital Reproduction: Scanners and Scanning

Part II - Digital Reproduction: Scanning for Preservation

Part III - Image Restoration, Manipulation, Treatment, and Ethics

Part IV - Sound (forthcoming)

Part V - Survey on Long-term Digital Storage and Preservation

(See also the Scanners list and forum)