Björk, Lars. How reproductive is a reproduction? Digital transmission of text-based documents. Borås, Sweden: Högskolan i Borås, 2015. ix, 277 p. ISBN 978-91-981654-6-3. (Skrifter från Valfrid, nr. 59).

Also available as pdf file from the open access repository of the Library of the University of Borås.

This monograph by Lars Björk is a result of his work on doctoral thesis defended at the University of Borås at the end of 2015. Thus, it follows the requirements for the doctoral thesis defended in Sweden that results in more detailed methodology chapter and analytical procedures than a usual monograph would do. However, this book is produced by a mature researcher and a highly skilled professional. It provides interesting and useful insights into the essence of the document in digital age and into the process of digitisation, but most important it looks into the relation between a source document and its representation, namely, a digital representation conditioned by the digitisation process. But what I have found interesting is in fact:

the intention to investigate the points of interaction between users and documents, thereby gaining the understanding of the characteristics of the digital reproduction and its capacity to replace access to the reproduced source document (p. 50).

The author has chosen his theoretical framework within a particular approach to documentation in the library and information science, which emphasizes the materiality of the document and its duality of form and sign. The concepts of a boundary object and passage points are imported from actor network theory. Even more important for this work is the concept of informative configurations of a document related to semiotics of communication, which sees a document as a unity of a material form, a sign and a means of communication (medium). These three elements are used in the analysis as the points of interaction between a document and a user and explain how a digital resource moves between different modes of representation when users engage with it.

The empirical part consists of two studies. One examines closely thirteen digitisation guidelines in order to produce a conceptual model of the structure of the digitisation process. The outcome of this analysis is a complex diamond figure (page 145) outlining the core process with elements related to each stage of document transformation. The author also identifies the potential points of engagement with digital documents through metadata, document transcription, and/or image.

The second study presents a number of interviews with users engaging with different digitised documents as a part of professional duties. Fifteen users were interviewed about the particularities of their usage of digital reproductions. The analysis was based on the modes of representation of a particular digital resource and user's interaction with it for a specific purpose. This allowed the researcher to identify particular types of engagement with digital documents or in other words 'the informative configurations'.

The book is interesting from the point of view of approach of the author to the problem of digitisation and use of digital documents. It allows the reader to grasp interesting aspects of both processes and realise the diversity of possible interactions between a user and a digital reproduction. The book benefits from the dual background of the author - as a researcher and as a professional conservator. It is well written and readable though the author deals with quite abstract concepts and introduces a complex theoretical framework. Though not without gaps in the presentation and grounding of the methods of the empirical studies, it throws a new light on the digitisation process and increases understanding of the functions and characteristics of digital reproductions.

The book will be of interest to practicing cultural heritage professionals and to researchers working in this field. It may be interesting to a broader audience of documentation researchers and also designers of digital products. The paper version is finely illustrated and designed and the pdf file presents these features as best as it can.

Elena Maceviciute
Swedish School for library and Information Science
University of Borås
January, 2016