The emergence of digital reformatting in the history of preservation knowledge: 1823–2015

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the emergence of digital reformatting as a technique for preserving information within the cultural heritage preservation community by reviewing historical trends in modern preservation research. Design/methodology/approach: This paper analyzes secondary sources, reviews and historical texts to identify trends in the intellectual and technological histories of preservation research, beginning with the first applications of the scientific method to combating book decay in the early nineteenth to the emergence of digitization techniques in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Findings: This paper identifies five major historical periods in the development of preservation knowledge: the early experimental era; era of microfilm experimentation; era of professionalization; era of digital library research; and the era of digital reformatting and mass digitization; and identifies three major trends in its development: empirical inquiry, standardization and centralization. Research limitations/implications: Findings reflect broad trends in the field of preservation, primarily in a United States context and are limited to the modern era of preservation research. Practical implications: This paper's broad historical overview provides a reference for preservation professionals and students in library science or archives programs. Identifying historical trends enables practitioners to critically examine their own preservation techniques and make better decisions when adopting and using new preservation technologies. Originality/value: This paper provides a unique perspective on the history of preservation knowledge that synthesizes existing historical research in order to identify periods and trends that enable a clearer understanding of digital reformatting in its historical emergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Documentation
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Access
  • Archives
  • Digitization
  • Information history
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Preservation
  • Professional knowledge
  • Standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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