NYHIST-L Archives

November 2001


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Brian Keough <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Nov 2001 13:29:58 -0500
text/plain (94 lines)
Hardware dependent refers having the computer equipment to read the data.
For example, try reading computer files created in the 1970s and stored on
7inch floppy disks. Or how about database or word processing files created
20 years ago and stored in an obsolete software program such as
OfficeWriter. I agree one hundred percent that digital technologies are
fantastic for access. The problems associated with microfilm are not due to
the technology, but staff who were not trained properly or who did not
follow accepted guidelines for microfilming.  Microfilming or digitization
is only as good as the humans who operate these technologies. What happens
when a new format replaces JPEG? WILL DVD replace the CD as the acceptable
storage medium? Yes, there are free or shareware conversion programs but
you still need to PAY for staff to do the converting.

In addition we probably have at least 20-30 million pages of records in our
collections. We have not focused on digitizing primary sources, but rather
digitizing all of our finding aids see http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/

There are semester long courses on preserving electronic data, so I am not
going to present all the argument here. Simply put, if you are planning a
project to reformat a collection then should be in digital format for
ACCESS. and microfilm for PRESERVATION . Whether scanning or microfilming,
you still need to have the funds to pay staff to do the scanning. The
additional cost in digitization is migrating the formats so that the
information  will be readable in the future.

Brian Keough, Curator of Manuscripts
M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives
University at Albany, SUNY
New Library Room 355
Albany, NY 12222
[log in to unmask]
Tel: (518) 437-3934
Fax: (518) 437-3930

At 02:33 PM 11/8/01 -0500, you wrote:
>I respectfully don't agree.  From the poor quality of microfilm that I have
>seen and used converting to a good quality digitized version just doesn't
>cut it, especially images.  Making one bad microfilm does not justify any
>expense in my book.
>I don't understand what you mean by hardware dependent.  All of the leading
>OCR packages except for Laserfiche are cross platform - they run on PC or
>Mac and not that expensive.  I still use an old version of Omnipage and it
>works fine.  If a version is 90% accurate vs 95% I don't think that
>qualifies for an additional expenditure.  Once a product goes to 100%
>efficiency then I would consider buying the upgrade.
>And digitally formatting IS a one time cost.  A TIFF file is a TIFF file. If
>you want to convert it to JPG, PS, or any other format (or like color to
>grayscale and vice versa) there are free or shareware conversion programs
>like graphicConverter, etc. that will do that job.
>The bottom line is a digital reproduction is close a thing to the real as
>possible.  And in fact, I will go out on the limb and say that in some cases
>it is better than the original. I am working with a digital house now on
>some experiments on this and will be writing a paper about it.  To give you
>one case, I took a rare 1803 map and had it digitized and printed from the
>digital.  The digital printed version brought out pencil remarks and
>corrections that had faded and was NOT evident on the original.  By having
>the ability to alter the contrast of a digital version you can bring out
>faded text or features.  Try to do that with microfilm.
> > From: "Pullen, Sharon" <[log in to unmask]>
> > Reply-To: "A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State
> > history." <[log in to unmask]>
> > Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 09:12:42 -0500
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: providing online
> >
> > The idea that digitally formatting something is a one-time cost is not
> > valid.  Digitization is currently too software/hardware dependent to be a
> > one-time expense. There are constant upgrades, migrations, etc. that become
> > necessary.  Microfilm, on the other hand is a one-time expense and can be
> > used as a basis for digitization, so as far as expense, it is still the
> most
> > cost-effective method of preservation.
> >
> > Sharon A. Pullen, CA
> > Suffolk County Archivist
> > Historical Documents Library
> > Office of the County Clerk
> > 310 Center Drive
> > Riverhead, NY 11901-3392
> >
> > Phone: 631-852-2015
> > Email: [log in to unmask]
> >