Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reformatting and Imaging at the Clarke Historical Library

Clarke Historical Library operates with departments typical of most libraries. As a special collections library it also has a reformatting and imaging unit, which reproduces content onto more stable or accessible formats. The work of this unit makes historic, fragile and rare documents more widely accessible to researchers. Begun a half century ago to preserve old newspapers, the operation has grown to include all manner of text and graphic material. Some of the most popular collections preserved include Central Michigan University history and the historic Soo Locks images.

The Library is the leader in preservation of Michigan newspapers. What began as a microfilm operation now includes digital access as well. The library maintains significant holdings in Michigan newspapers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Additionally, it works with libraries and historical societies throughout the state to preserve contemporary local news too. Although digital is the choice for wide access, microfilm remains the preservation standard. A typical newspaper project begins by manually microfilming the paper with a large professional camera, then passes through many specialized steps before a final digital document is produced.

Smaller paper formats such as manuscripts, letters, and photographs generally go direct to digital on flatbed scanners. These units can produce very high resolution scans suitable for publication. Images can be adjusted for traits such as brightness and contrast, sometimes revealing results more clearly than the originals. When researchers apply magnification to documents of this quality, they're able to zero in on important and fascinating details.

The Clarke web site hosts many digital collections with digital imaging produced in-house by the reformatting and imaging unit. Best of all, the collections are always open for exploration!