RIT’s Image Permanence Institute Awarded Grants to Study Digital Print Preservation

IPI receives a $314,215 grant from IMLS and $606,000 grant from Mellon Foundation




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The Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology has received a $314, 215 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for a major research and development project about the preservation of digital prints.

Inkjets, electrophotographic and dye diffusion thermal transfer materials account for the overwhelming majority of desktop documents and an increasing number of short-run publications and monographs in institutional collections today. Collection care professionals need guidance—first, to determine which objects in their collections have been digitally printed and, second, to understand the nature and preservation needs of such materials.

“Virtually all forms of individual scholarly communication and artistic image creation now depend on only a few technologies for producing hard-copy output,” says James Reilly, director of RIT’s Image Permanence Institute. “Because these technologies haven’t been systematically studied, a balanced overview of their strengths and weaknesses from the point of view of collection preservation doesn’t exist. We have already observed that the newer media are vulnerable to damage in ways that photographic materials or output from older text recording systems were not. We can’t assume that what is good for traditional materials will be good for digital materials.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services funds will support a two-year study of the potentially harmful effects of enclosures and physical handling on digital prints, as well as their vulnerability to damage due to flood. Another component of the project is an in-depth investigation of the stability of digitally printed materials when they are exposed to light, air-borne pollutants, heat and humidity. A $606,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund this portion of the project.

Project results will be published on a unique Web site, The DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal. The site will contain information and tools to aid in the identification of digital prints and in understanding their chemical and physical nature; it will offer scientifically sound recommendations for storage, display and handling; and it will guide users in assessing the risk of damage to these materials in the event of flood so that they might revise their institutional disaster response plans.

The Image Permanence Institute, part of RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, is a university-based, non-profit research laboratory devoted to scientific research in the preservation of visual and other forms of recorded information. It’s the world’s largest independent laboratory with this specific scope.

About RIT

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. More than 15,800 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For nearly two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review features RIT in its 2007 Best 361 Colleges rankings and named the university one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses.” RIT is also featured in Barron’s Best Buys in Education.

About the Institute Of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit http://www.imls.gov.