Digitization 101

Here is a post for anyone interested in what I have been up to in my first week on the job working on the digitization project.

Lately I have been spending as much time as I can touring libraries and archives locally to see what they have been doing for digitization projects.

If you ever get a chance I recommend visiting the City of Toronto Archives – it is free and absolutely worth the travel time to visit. They have exhibits to look at (mostly copies/reproductions), you can see the conservator in action and you can also check out the way they store their documents. They have a pretty neat online site with virtual exhibits too.It is really fascinating to see the digitization projects out there and to talk to the people working on them and designing them.

Tonight, while exploring one digitization project, I came across this document which made me really think about authority and be glad that we are not in a situation of war in our country.

On a more serious note, in beginning this project one of the main things I have been thinking about (and rather reluctantly I admit dreaming about) has been copyright. There are so many resources out there on copyright, but the best that I have found is this copyright information centre from the Canadian Library Association. It contains links to case law, legislation and regulations and leads you to secondary material to help make sense of it all.

I have been considering why we are doing this digitization project and who the end user will be.  This is crucial in how we make decisions about the future of the project including what subject headings to use when cataloging and what pictures to digitize first.

It is clear that digitization projects are expensive in terms of time and also require a log of bytes of space.  Fortunately, it seems disk space is getting cheaper.  Still, with budget being a concern I must consider cost effective ways to back up the project while also thinking about migration issues and future needs/expectations with respect to viewing of digitized images.

I have also been looking at ways to store the film negatives (black and white). I have been looking at safes but plan to also look at the cost of refrigerators and cold storage units since this is said to be the best way to store film. Currently we are keeping negatives in a safe off-site, but I will need the negatives on site for the duration of the project since I have learned that we will get a much better quality scan from the negatives than from the photographs themselves. However, this will also mean that I need to photoshop every single picture to turn it from a negative image into a positive image!

Speaking of Photoshop, one must be so careful with using photoshop under the Moral Rights provision of the Copyright Act to not alter the image in such a way that would damage the integrity of the artist or his/her work. A certain amount of change is requisite to change negatives into positives.

I haven’t even scratched the surface on how we should catalog the photographs and the format we should use for this. Really, there is so much to think about when getting started into a project of this nature, but I am really excited about it and am so lucky to have this opportunity.

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