Digitization: The art of preserving archival materials in the 21st century

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

IF YOU were born in the 1960s, chances are high that you have in your possession some memorabilia of your parents’ wedding ceremony. In the case of my parents who were married in 1962, one wedding invitation remains, along with some black and white wedding photographs.

However, by some good fortune, we still have sixteen colored Kodachrome transparencies of the said occasion.

In order to view these transparencies, however, a Kodak Carousel slide projector is needed. Unfortunately we don’t have this machine which used to be so common back in the 1950s up to the 1970s.


In order to view the transparencies taken during my parents’ wedding, I just hold them up against the natural light. Through this crude manner, I could see the red misalette that the officiating priest, then Msgr. Antonio Fortich, is holding, the yellow candle near my parents and the colorful flowers at the wedding reception.

Last September 27 and 28, 2012 I was invited to attend a seminar-workshop on organizing and digitizing library archival materials by Prof. Sandra de Erit, president of the Philippine Librarians Association Inc–Western Visayas Regional Librarians Council, and Director of the Learning Resource Center of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod. For Day 1, please refer to my published article in Sun.Star Weekend September 30, 2012 issue.

In the morning of Day 2 of the seminar-workshop, the task, tools and technology for the digitization of library archival materials was discussed by Prof. Jose Patricio Lagumen, head of the Photoduplication Services of the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University.

In the afternoon, Prof. Edgardo Quiros, head of the Information Technology Division of the National Library of the Philippines, discussed the different ways of digitizing from scratch.

Digitizing and digitization are the key words in preserving the archival materials that are present not only in libraries but also in our personal collections at home. Basic equipment needed are high quality scanners and high resolution digital cameras.

In the case of the Kodachrome transparencies taken at my parents’ wedding, I got an idea from Wikipedia to look for a suitable slide projector for the transparencies and then take pictures of the projections using my digital camera, which incidentally is a 10 megapixel Kodak EasyShare
C142 digicam.

An interesting trivia about my family is that our very first manual camera was a Kodak Instamatic X-35. It’s still around and I suppose it still works.

According to Prof. Fe Angela Verzosa however, the longevity of flash drives, memory cards and compact discs where digital images are kept are not time tested, unlike paper. She cited the Gutenberg Bible which was printed in Germany in the 1450s and which survived up to this day.

Only time will tell if digitization is indeed the solution to the Brittle Books issue facing libraries worldwide.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 07, 2012.


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