Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Documents of 20th-century Latin American and
Latino Art digitization process

The ICAA and its research teams developed and adopted a number of digitization standards and best practices during the Recovery Phase of the Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art project. In many cases, the ICAA exceeded its own expectations of discovering documents that could be prepared for publication. As a result, the ICAA further refined and upgraded its digitization standards for recovery and its best practices for implementation. From 2004 to 2011, approximately ten thousand documents were digitized by the project’s research teams and ICAA staff members. For the ICAA, document recovery has been an organic process, beginning with the discovery and retrieval of research materials and continuing as additional research materials have been uncovered. Moreover, since the onset of the Documents Project’s Digital Archive (hereafter “Digital Archive”), the impetus has been to capitalize on technological advances in order to grant access to documents that are little known or otherwise difficult to find, even within the countries or communities where they have been recovered. Digitization—a process that leads to the creation of materials in a digital format—involves a number of logistical and technical processes. These were put to the test by the volume, diversity, origin, and cultural value of the materials uncovered specifically for the ICAA Documents Project. Digitizing historical materials has presented a unique set of challenges for the ICAA. In many instances, the ICAA’s imaging professionals were limited by the quality of the documents that the research teams had access to in the field. Also, in certain cases, the imaging professionals were limited by restrictions and/or modifications to a document’s layout required by the copyright holder. The source images for rare documents were often in less-than-optimal conditions. In certain extreme cases, the original documents were already irrevocably lost and exist solely through copies or other facsimiles in personal archives or in library special collections that remain closed to the general public.

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