Digital archives are widely recognized as a crucial component of a global information infrastructure for the 21st century. Research projects in many parts of the world cannot be imagined without using advanced information technologies for managing and manipulating digital information.
Digitization represents a process of conversion of materials that were originally created in another format into an electronic form. Although this includes digitally originated materials, such as email or digital photos.
Materials for conversion often include unpublished materials such as correspondence or corporate records, as well as items as diverse as photographs, film and videotape, advertising flyers, train tickets, and handwritten manuscripts.
Although digitization has its own preservation difficulties, it does provide superior access to archival materials, which traditionally has been limited.
In other words, providing more access has a two-fold purpose, to open up the collection to existing and potential new users and to provide increased public visibility for the institution, its holdings, and its purpose.
While a digital surrogate is not intended to replace the original, it is often adequate for most research needs.