There are a wide variety of collection object types created using digital-printing techniques, including images, manuscripts, books, ephemera, etc. and objects produced by digital print technologies are entering institutional collections at an increasing rate. IPI digital print preservation research focuses on the preservation of digitally-printed images and addressing questions that will help collections staff better understand and care for these materials. While there are many printing technologies for output from computers, IPI has focused on the three most popular forms of image hardcopy: inkjet, dye sublimation, and electrophotography.
A variety of harmful forces can affect collection objects in storage resulting in multiple forms of deterioration. For digital prints, the primary drivers of deterioration are heat, moisture, and air pollutants, though each print type will have its own unique sensitivities to each of these. Signs of deterioration include image fading, color shift, paper yellowing, ink bleed, and cracking or delamination of paper layers. Control of temperature, humidity, and air quality in storage environments can significantly decrease the rate of change experienced by digital print materials.
Digital print preservation research at IPI has consisted of several grant-funded initiatives since 2007.
Research related to digital print preservation has been published in imaging science and preservation journals.
Workshops on digital print preservation are being taught across the US and abroad.
Evaluating the Potential for Freezing and Freeze Drying to Improve Water Emergency Outcomes for Inkjet Prints
This project will build on previous work to finalize salvage techniques for inkjet-printed collection materials following water emergencies. Experiments will compare the full history of inkjet print types across freezing rates and drying methodologies. The data will form the basis of best practices needed to effectively respond to water emergencies large or small. Results will be submitted to conferences and journals, made available on IPI’s existing Digital Print Preservation Portal website, and integrated into ongoing education initiatives. Results will also be condensed into a printed, waterproof, one-page visual aid to provide simplified guidance during these catastrophic events. The project will benefit museums, libraries, archives, galleries, photographers, and the general public; maximize our nation’s collective ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover inkjet-printed materials during water emergencies; and address the IMLS Strategic Plan Goal for Collections Stewardship.
Institute of Museum and Library Services
2018 - 2021
Digital Print Preservation: Education and Training for Cultural Heritage Professionals
This project will have a wide and substantial impact on the field. Hundreds of attendees will benefit from a program of nine workshops offered over three days, along with short sessions at each location that will allow additional attendees a half-day overview covering foundational knowledge on digital print processes and materials, a new descriptive language to assure accurate communication, and the basics of best care for these objects. The experience will be groundbreaking for attendees. Most have little or no experience in this area and this will be the first educational experience on the topic they have ever received.
National Endowment for the Humanities
2018 - 2019
DP3project.org is a website devoted to presenting IPI’s research on digital print preservation. Information about digital printing technologies, common forms of deterioration, and guidelines for handling, storage, display, and naming of materials are provided at dp3project.org and summarized in IPI’s Guide to Preservation of Digitally-Printed Images.
This guide provides basic information on the storage and preservation of digitally-printed photographs in scholarly and cultural collections. While there are many printing technologies for output from computers, this guide focuses on the three most popular forms of image (i.e. pictorial) hardcopy: inkjet, digital electrophotography, dye sublimation. Information on recommended storage conditions, selection of housing and framing materials, proper handling and display are included. Collection care personnel in cultural institutions are the intended audience for this guide, however, it will also be useful to photographers, artists, and the general public.
Over the last decade, IPI has studied the stability and preservation of digital print materials. We offer workshops to all professionals responsible for the preservation of digitally-printed materials including conservators, catalogers and registrars, curators, archivists, librarians, exhibition preparators, etc. Topics include a definition of the term digital print, an introduction to the history and technologies of the most common digital printers, likely forms of deterioration for digital prints, general recommendations for care, as well as suggested naming conventions and descriptive terminology for cataloging and other records.