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Top > Frequently asked questions > Preservation and Digitization of materials > Digitization of materials

Frequently asked questions : Digitization of materials

Frequently asked questions

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Q
Why does the NDL digitize paper materials?
A
The NDL holds enormous paper-form publications including about 8.83 million books (as of the end of March, 2007). From our collections, we have been digitizing materials sequentially whose copyright issue has been cleared*, and making their contents and digital images available on the Internet through our digital library services including the NDL Digital Collections and the Digital Library from the Meiji Era.
One of the advantages of digitizing paper materials is that people can access materials any time and anywhere on the Internet without visiting the NDL in person. Digitization also prevents materials from deterioration and damage by use, which is an issue closely related with paper-form publications. Consequently, we can say that digitization is an effective method in light of both use and preservation.
*Including materials whose copyright has expired such as rare books and semi-rare books, and Japanese materials published in the Meiji or Taisho era, for which we have cleared copyright.

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Q
Why does the NDL digitize audio-visual materials?
A
There are many problems in preserving audio-visual materials for a long time. The record media will deteriorate in time and become unreadable. The playback equipment can disappear at some stage as a result of the appearance of new specifications or format wars. In particular, almost all the analog audio-visual materials are replayed by direct contact of a reader device with the record medium; therefore, repeated use leads them to be damaged.
It is digitization which is effective to clear up these problems. Conversion into digital information which is not damaged by use achieves long-term preservation. Although in a precise sense it is impossible to permanently store and maintain analog audio-visual media and their playback equipment, digitization extends the possibility.
In addition to this merit, when we digitize materials to be playable on PCs and clear copyright issues as well, we can put them on the Internet, which will lead to more use by more users more easily.
Because of these factors, the NDL has been involved in research and studies on digitization of audio-visual materials as well as paper-form publications.

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Q
Why are not only old materials but also new materials being digitized?
A
The Library offer digitized materials in place of original source documents in order to avoid damage or loss of these materials. This was recognized in the revision of copyright law enforced in January 2010 (Article 31, Paragraph 2 of the Copyright Law). Please refer to the National Diet Library policy governing digitization of its collection items, entitled "Basic Policy for Digitization of National Diet Library's Collections" (in Japanese).

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Q
I would like to read an original document that has been completely digitized.
A
In order to preserve the original documents, we ask that you read any digitized materials on a digital screen.

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