Creation of a digital environment to guarantee the preservation and cataloguing of a vast historical photographic archive conserved at the Florentine Athenaeum.
The collections - which are sources of considerable interest for the history of the territory - studied, catalogued, digitized and are made available via the web thanks to a specially designed environment.
The proposed open source solution is replicable, interoperable with the main European repositories and the contents can be increased.
The project:
1) created a network, which has allowed to: identify a plurality of problems (census, digitization of fragile and unique documents, restoration, diversified use by type of users, interoperability); find effective solutions implemented by each archive; ensure the sustainability and durability thanks to the efforts of each partner and to shared planning.
2) made accessible to the public previously unknown documents, overcoming problems related physical access and extreme fragility of the documents (restoration, digitization, security, creation of the consultation system)
The digital archive offers a wide range of historical photos about landscapes; expands on opportunities for joint knowledge management of documents preserved in different archives; in some cases, the digitization process allowed the reconstruction of collections that had been scattered over time.
The added value goes beyond the creation of a digital archive: the sources recovered, reorganized and made accessible constitute a database of considerable interest for the study of historical identity landscapes

Resources needed

Funding requested 60k. Funding granted 19k euros
Human resources: 1 project coordinator, 1 IT technician to build the infrastructure, 2 technicians to restore documents, and for each institution involved an archivist and a technician for the digitization process.

Evidence of success

The project has led to create and populate the archive;Meaurable success factors were:
- n. of archives (MiBACT-Superintendence of Archeology of Tuscany, MiBACT-Central Institute for Cataloging and Documentation, MAE-Institute of Overseas Agronomy, Academy of Georgofili,) that have joined the initial project;
- n. of restored photos;
- total n. of high-resolution digitized photos, cataloged and made accessible: 5664 (as follows:1535 UniFIi; 1468 Georgofili;576 SAT, 609 ICCD;347 IAO; 1129 SGI)

Potential for learning or transfer

We consider this project as an experience of interest for other contexts due to some very simple factors that are often not taken into consideration in the implementation of projects: above all the trust among participants. This component is crucial when people have to achieve common goals in presence of difficulties (in this case the low funding and physical distance among the different archives) and when a precious and fragile documentary heritage must be shared.
To realize the digital archive and to make accessible through this a large number of historical photos, the establishment of a solid network within which instrumental resources and know-how could circulate in common were decisive. This ensured both a decrease in costs but above all the sustainability of the project.

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Main institution
University of Florence, , Applied Geography Laboratory
Toscana, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
April 2016
End Date
December 2018


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