Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections

December 4-5, 2008 at the Union League of Philadelphia



Overview and Updates

Schedule and Speakers


Information for Attendees


Mary Rephlo
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Biographical Statement

Mary Rephlo works directly for Jim Hastings, NARA's Director of Access Programs. In that position, she serves as Digitization Coordinator, with a particular focus on digitization partnerships. Since 1993, Mary has served as director of the Modern Archives Institute, the two-week training course for non-NARA archival professionals. For 13 years, Mary served as Staff Development Officer at NARA, where she had overall responsibility for the multi-year internal Archivist Career Training Program popularly called CIDS. Mary began her NARA career with the Legislative Archives Division of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in 1985 and is a co-author of the guides to House and Senate records. Mary holds a masters degree in history from the University of Missouri.

member of Digitization panel

Project Description

Earlier this year, NARA issued a Strategy for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016. The most innovative feature of this document is the commitment to establishing partnerships with external organizations to digitize NARA holdings. NARA has established digitization partnerships with iArchives (, the Genealogical Society of Utah (, and The Generations Network (, each of which is currently digitizing selected NARA holdings in the Washington, DC, area. Each relationship is covered by a partnership agreement. These agreements have slight variations but are alike in several key principles. Among them are:

  • To provide for full access and effective preservation, partners will digitize full series or file segments of records, not just selected documents.
  • The digital materials will be created and displayed so as to retain an "archival view" of the materials.
  • Access to the products of the partnership will be free to the public in all NARA research rooms.
  • Partners shall provide NARA without charge a full set of the digital copies produced by the partnership, along with sufficient metadata to make the digitized copies usable by NARA. After an agreed-upon period of time, NARA will have unrestricted ownership of these donated materials, including the right to make these copies freely available online.
  • The partner shall pay all direct costs associated with the digitization projects. currently has approximately 50 million digitized images of NARA holdings online, while has approximately 70 million. In both cases, the vast majority of the images were obtained from microfilm publications, but each partner is also helping to digitize and index portions of our holdings that have never been available through microfilm. There are many details involved in these partnership projects dealing with original records. Attendees may want to explore some of these, such as the selection of materials to be digitized; equipment and handling issues; project coordination and tracking; quality assurance and quality control; and ramifications for NARA work plans and infrastructure.



Last updated September 16, 2008. Questions may be directed to Laura Blanchard,