NYHIST-L Archives

November 2001


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Phil Lord <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 8 Nov 2001 09:06:44 -0500
text/plain (54 lines)
One aspect of this discussion those of us who spend lots of time deciphering manuscript materials, both maps and texts, might mention is that microfiliming does NOT preserve all the usable data in a document, unless it is full color mircofilm.

Many times I have tried to understand lines and marks on an 18th century map on microfilm, only to find, when I got color photos of the original, that I had been seeing cracks in the paper as creeks. The slight color difference between the brown of the crack and the black of the creek made all the difference. Often the cartographer uses color coding for features, which is critical where a legend or key is lacking and feature labels are absent. Even "black and white" originals can not be captured on black and white microflim. (Recall the creeks and cracks issue.) Sometime a stain obscures the text with the microfilm camera reducing everything to simplified degrees of black, but on the original, one can "read through" the brownish stain to see the black ink beneath.

A digital scan, which is close to original color, saves the day, in my opinion. And it makes the image protable and useful in several media (Web, PowerPoint slide shows, email, etc.) Look a some of the digital map websites out there if you need to be convinced, such as http://www.sunysb.edu/libmap/nypath1.htm

Philip Lord, Jr.
Director, Division of Museum Services
New York State Museum
Room CEC 3097 - Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
(518) 486-2037
Website: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/services.html

>>> [log in to unmask] 11/07/01 12:47PM >>>
While we are just beginning to put up manuscript and the like (see the
Pike's Cantonment material at
http://www2.plattsburgh.edu/acadvp/libinfo/library/speccoll.html), I
definitely view this as a way to preserve, not destroy, the originals. By
digitizing it we allow many people to view it without touching the
original. Also, should something (God forbid) happen to an original, at
least we have a digital copy. And, once the hardware investment is made,
the cost of digital preservation is almost entirely the labor involved.
While this is not inconsequential, it IS less than microfilming.

I know, I know, the Web and CD's aren't stable enough to be considered
'archival' but the reality is they are becoming the de facto media.

Wayne Miller
Plattsburgh State

Don Rittner writes:

> I wonder how many libraries are using some of the Web based technologies to
> provide access to their manuscripts and other rare items?  For example, I
> believe it is Laserfiche that allow you to OCR a document so that when
> posted on the Net it is entirely keyword searchable using the original
> looking document.  I know the Schenectady Public Library has done a great
> job on providing some of the early maps and manuscripts they have on the
> Net.  I know that many use plain OCR packages like Omnipage, TextBridge and
> others which do provide the text information, but these other technologies
> give you the "look and feel" as well.  And not to be beat a dead horse, but
> if institutions do use these technologies, does it encourage them to destroy
> the original since they now have a digital version that is "almost" as good?
> Finally, has anyone compiled a list of the web sites that do have these
> items?  Seems like it would be a good resource for those geographically
> restricted.
> dr