Medici Archive Project

We visited the Medici Archive Project in Florence. A few odd things stuck out about this: first, they made some comments about Netscape (I can’t possibly have heard correctly that some of their features only work with legacy browsers — someone please correct me), it’s funded by the Mellon Foundation (which reminded a few of us of the Vatican Library’s comments about staff from the Library of Congress coming there to do their cataloging, and, as far as we could tell, the staff wasn’t prepared to discuss digital preservation issues.

I asked our presenter about whether they’ve experienced issues with file preservation: things like bit rot, or corruption. He asked someone who worked with the digital objects, who told us that it depended on the file type and image resolution. I’m not sure whether something got lost in translation, or whether this particular project is just too new to have had these issues appear.

What really struck me was the lack of a central, national archival structure in Italy. One would think that federal records would have their own repository: this doesn’t seem to be the case, according to the folks at the state archive in Florence.

Beyond that, it seems that all archives have the same issues: insufficient space, inadequate housing/lack of a suitable environment conducive to preservation.

Didn’t manage to get any photos of the reading room, but here are some from our visit. Note that archives all over the world love to display their collections and do local history exhibits! Didn’t have enough time to pop in on our visit, but it felt like home, and so did the lockers for researchers.

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