Daily Worker Negatives Digitization Policy

The Daily Worker negatives will be scanned for this project for the purposes of both preservation and access. The negatives are rare, fragile and irreplaceable, so preservation digitization will reduce handling and movement of originals. They are also of high historic value, while the images they contain are accessible only in negative form; a complementary goal of digitization is therefore providing access to high quality—but not preservation quality—digitized images, available online, for study and use. A third related purpose is the creation of high quality images to be used for purposes of printing for exhibits and publications.

The project will work with the NYU Digital Imaging Lab, where scanning will take place. The lab presently does not have a scanner specifically suited for medium format (4 x 5) images, so the grant proposal will include a request for funding to purchase an Imacon X5 medium format scanner. The Imacon is made especially for medium format (4 x 5) images. While the Imacon takes more time to scan than a flatbed, the X5 is the fastest Imacon model.

Scanning will be done at 2000 dpi in greyscale, and two copies of each Daily Worker negative will be created: one will be a preservation quality master TIFF file, and the other a derivative file, which is also a TIFF. Both images will be stored on the "Preservation Repository," an NYU server that is specially reserved for digital imaging projects. Space does not appear to be an issue, and the project of digitizing approximately 5,000 negatives will likely require about a terabyte of space.

Scanning will be performed at the lab by a trained technician (probably a student) with a strong visual sense. The monitors, scanners and printers at the lab are regularly calibrated to ensure a higher degree of accuracy and fidelity to the original than in a non-calibrated environment. Each negative will be scanned along with a greyscale chart that will be used as a standard for determining fidelity and to assist in post-processing. No post-processing will be done on the preservation or master TIFF, however minor alterations may be made to the derivative TIFF file in Photoshop, primarily to make the image appear sharper.

The Project Manager will check the TIFFs for each negative scanned against their original. This will be done in batches, as part of the regular workflow. This process will help to ensure image quality and accuracy, in areas of tonal range, sharpness, exposure and image content.

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