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Decision to scan from microfilm vs. original newsprint, Kent Stater project

Over the summer, we completed the monumental task of digitizing over 90 years of the student newspaper at Kent State. In the last batch of materials that were ingested (1926-1939), we had to make a decision whether to send out the originals- slim, bound volumes- or, to scan from microfilm. All of the previous scanning had been done from the print. We send the full volumes out to our vendor (Backstage Library Works), who disbinds the content before scanning (Note: this is from our second copy, for anyone who is curious! I also love that the disbinding machine is called the guillotine).

These early volumes were more problematic however, so our team talked about other options. As we looked at the early years, the newspaper had become extremely brittle, so much that even turning the pages to review the volumes was a little harrowing. We had to really tackle the potential problems for the scanning vendor before we decided whether to send these out. The level of brittleness in these early years was enough that we did not think the regular guillotine method would be a good idea. There were also a number of torn pages and missing pieces that would have to be addressed and if possible, repaired.

We then turned to the micofilm copy. These had been done some years prior, and to the best of our knowledge, had been filmed in-house. This option also presented its own set of problems as well- Since this was done in-house, we noted some skipped pages throughout the reels, and at times, low quality capture (hot spots in lighting, bad contrast, etc.). However, using our new microfilm reader/scanner, we noted that since the capture had taken place at an earlier date when the paper was less brittle, the quality was overall better than what we would likely get from capturing the physical volumes. And, another selling point was that the decision to scan from the microfilm instead of the physical volumes with numerous preservation issues, it was also much cheaper.

So, we sent out the microfilm, and I had the not so fun job of going through the scans to determine the missing pages. Fortunately, with our file naming schema in place, I did have some clues along the way to identify the missing pages. I did however end up doing a page level review, since we had noted the capture problems (lighting/contrast) in our initial review. All I will say, is that lots and lots of coffee was ingested during this tedious review. Once I had a list, we scanned the missing/low quality pages in-house from the brittle originals. We used our Bookeye 4 scanner to make the capture. These new scans were then added to the scans from Backstage, and these were sent on to the encoding vendor. Even though the number of issues from the early years were significantly lower than later years, this was a pretty tedious chore that took me about four weeks to complete in the late spring/early summer of 2017. (Only 3,254 pages from thirteen years of publication...)

I thought this topic might be of use for folks in the same scenario, and here's a link to our first issue of the student newspaper. At that time, called The Searchlight::: 


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