Developing the Digital Archive

The U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers

The U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers is a unique collection, in that it contains not only the ‘finished’ materials from a prolific human rights documentarian, but also encompasses the entirety of his working documents and media. Though the physical collection is substantial, the digital collection is a large, tangled web of files and folders.

Among the most difficult challenges that faces a collection like this is the fleeting nature of digital media. As technology rapidly progresses, it quickly leaves obsolete media in its wake; Romano was an early adopter of new media, and as a result this collection is comprised of dozens of media types. One of the top priorities of this collection lies in preserving the work so that it will be accessible in the future.

Romano frequently made many iterations of his files, as photographers and documentarians often do, whether it was as part of the working process, or as a security measure to avoid losing data. While this is standard practice, this method of working poses a significant challenge in processing the collection. Not only is a system for mapping and navigating the existing digital materials necessary, but there are also endless concepts to discuss when it comes to the ideas of the photographic process and archival importance.