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November 2001


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Don Rittner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Nov 2001 11:40:36 -0500
text/plain (130 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.

Brian, that really is not a problem.  There are many programs on the market
that will go into a computer file and pull out the "data fork" that is the
text or image information of a file.  I do it all the time when my pc
friends send me files that I cannot open on my iMac.  There are companies
that specialize in converting old formats to newer ones,  and there are
plenty of old timers out there that are willing - can you all say "Y2K"???
I knew you could.  The State hired hundreds of old COBOL programmers for
that one.

Your points on staff expertise are well taken, and of course cost.  However,
it seems to me that the computer industry is well aware of upward and
backward compatibility - except perhaps for Microsoft but that is a
different story :)  and they are making sure that you can migrate upwards
but that really has not been a problem.  The fact that the computer industry
years ago agreed on ASCII as a standard shows that.  Also I don't believe
there is a graphic file format I cannot open with my trusty "Canopener" (A
software program), or others.  And most image formats are readily
transferable though the quality may and does suffer.  At this point in time
TIFF files are probably the best since they retain all of the color or gray
information and can be converted to less formats.  But your remark about DVD
replacing CD is only a transfer and play issue not a digital problem.  A
TIFF file is a TIFF file and as long as the mechanics can read them, it
doesn't really matter if it is on CD, DVD, optical, or a copy on my VHS
videoplayer.  There is no degradation of the digital representation of an
image only the medium it is sitting on.  Someday, I predict that we will be
using something like pure silicon or a hybrid metal that has a shelf life of
millions of years for archiving.

> 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/

What about using "Independent Study" or "Work study" students at SUNYA???

> 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.

How about digital for access and originals for preservation?  It seems to me
that if a librarian had designed that new science library you have on campus
they would have utilized ALL the space and not have that totally useless,
echo creating, 5 story atrium in the middle!!!!!  Is it a library or a tomb?


> 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.
>> dr
>>> 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]