Princeton University Library has a long history of providing digital access to our rare and unique collections online. The online experience offers complementary opportunities, including the ability to examine the physical attributes of the material in greater detail without special equipment. It broadens the reach of exhibitions such as Through a Glass Darkly by making it accessible to a global audience and ensuring that it persists online long after the gallery exhibition has closed.

This exhibition uses Digital PUL for digital collections and online exhibitions at PUL. Built on a platform that Princeton University Library developed in collaboration with several of our peer research institutions, Digital PUL provides a new home for our ever-growing number of thematic digital collections and exhibitions, as well as accompanying content from librarians, curators, and other subject experts.

This is, however, only one of several portals through which Princeton’s rich set of digitized material is available: we also have specialized portals for thousands of historic and contemporary maps, hundreds of issues of regional newspapers, tens of thousands of pages of archival documents, and ephemeral material from around the world.

While PUL's digitization efforts to date have largely focused on the imaging of books, manuscripts, and other artifacts in order to increase or enhance access, we are also leveraging digitization for the long-term preservation of the Library’s collections. Audio-visual materials in particular, as well as other magnetic media (remember 5¼” floppy disks?) present a new set of challenges as we look to preserve obsolete formats and technologies. In accordance with the Library’s mission, digitization or conversion into contemporary formats—remediation, as it is sometimes referred to in this case—is our best strategy for ensuring access to these primary resources for future generations.

Jon Stroop, Deputy University Librarian