Yale's digitization process was performed in conjunction with the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA) and Xerox, according to Xerox. The most critical part of the process was scanning badly damaged acidic paper from 19th century archives in Yale's library. The combination of environmental factors, pollution and excessive handling had caused much of the material to be marred. And whereas microfilm had been a long-time staple in preservation for libraries or institutions with large, searchable records, Xerox created a more feasible, usable method. Digital technology, as a result, makes files accessible in any format for output on a variety of media.
For instance, a paper written by an obscure scholar from the 1800s may not be in as much demand as a first edition of a major dramatic script. But the system built to archive and extract the material honors both. Whether a scholar wishes to examine the thesis from 1832 or whether a director intends to produce a production akin to original form, both records can be extracted and printed using the digital technologies that support on-demand printing.
According to a Xerox report, "The projects goals are to prove that the concept can work, to gain experience with converting microfilm to digital and then to evaluate the issues of wider access to information," states Donald J. Waters, the director of library and administrative systems for Yale University at the time that the project was begun.
That was several years ago.
Today, the electronic system is in widespread use. Members are able to gain access to files that were once resigned to dark basements within the gothic store room. The results have meant that customized books have been created that have since bolstered the professional reputation of Yale University Press. For both community and global use, the materials offer up not only evidence of the past's legacy of intellectual investigation, but also a glimpse into how archaic methods of archive and distribution are replaced by more efficient methods of digital exchange and output.