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Researchers at ancestry.com estimate that in the 1930s, people took approximately 1 billion photographs. That number grew to about 3 billion in the 1960s and 86 billion by the year 2000 after digital cameras became readily available in the 1990s. Today, they say, the number has skyrocketed to more than 380 billion. Facebook reports that its users have uploaded more than 250 billion photos, and estimates that the site receives 350 million new photos each day.

Smartphones and tablets with built-in cameras are responsible for the explosive growth. Yet there are those who think the most photographed generation will ultimately leave fewer images behind.

Steve Perdue, head of the genealogy and local history department at Saline County Library, is concerned about the future access of all these digital images. “I think that most photos will disappear in the future and archivists are going to have a hard time recovering photos from this generation. I have photos in albums from the 1920s and even further back, but I am not sure this generation will have that to look back on,” he says.

See Saturday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s HomeStyle section for ideas on preserving digital photos for today and the future.

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