Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

Alexandra Foulds, archivist

The problem with digital recordings is that they are extremely vulnerable. I don't think people really realise just how vulnerable they are.

If something is stored on a memory stick, computer or on an online cache, and that server goes down or the file corrupts because of what's known as 'bit rot', it's gone forever .

That's difficult to believe in a world where it seems like the internet is infinite and free, and storage space will keep growing.

Actually, that's not the case, and you can't keep everything. Video files, for instance, are huge. It takes quite a lot of power - and costs quite a lot - to store them, whether on or offline. The other thing that costs a lot is the processing and cataloguing of the records.

At the moment, I've been moving lots of books around. Now we have a closed annex space at Gladstone's, that means that all of the archives aside from the Glynne-Gladstone collection, which is in the strong room, can be housed together in one room.

As I have been working, I keep discovering things that will need to be added to the digital collection.

I found a bunch of cassette tapes the other day, which is a good example of preserving something that might eventually be lost because the technology is obsolete.

That's exciting, because once they are digitised (and the same goes for the manuscripts and papers), many more people will have access to them.

We might get to hear voices that otherwise would have been lost.

Because we have a big digitization project starting soon, I'm having to think about how all the images are going to be preserved for the future.

It's no good spending money and time scanning images if in 10 years the hosting website stops working, or if computers stop supporting a particular file type and the online archive becomes obsolete.

So I'm researching how best to store these things, so they will be safe and available in future.

We have taken on a digitization officer, who will spend most of their time carefully scanning documents and book pages.

Some of these items are very old and fragile. It's going to be a huge amount of information to copy, order and preserve.

Once it is online, it can be accessed by researchers from across the world.

It's all quite exciting, and I'm looking forward to the challenge