Waterfront Project - Digitization Policy

The digitization project will be carried out in house. The process of digitizing and organizing these images (and essentially preparing them for the meta-data and tagging stage) can be a valuable learning project for interns and higher staff alike. Also, or the time and money (and approval) it takes to farm this sort of work out, it could possibly be accomplished with a dedicated staff with good attention to detail and dedication. This is a project of at most hundreds (certainly not thousands) of documents.

Documents will be scanned at 300 dpi. 600 dpi seems excessive and wasteful as 300 dpi captures all the necessary detail (and then some) for the documents being dealt with here. Scans will also be done in color. I find it crucial to preserve the color in this instance for several reasons. The yellowed tones of old documents convey a sense of oldness which make the viewer feel that they are looking at history. This may sound slightly hokey, but I believe it to be true and I would recommend reading Irene Bruckle's "The Practice of Looking in Paper Conservation" from The Paper Conservator vol 25 (2001) for more helpful background on art vs. documents and the conveyance of a sense of history to the viewer. Also, I find that at least in this case (if not most cases) preserving the yellowed tones also helps preserve the relation between whites, blacks and greys in the image. Finally, color is important for the handful of documents which utilize various tones.

Images will be saved in a TIFF format and a JPEG format.

As long as the scans are clear and benchmarks are set up (and adhered to) I see no reason why there should be image correction. The documents seem to be perfectly readable without being photoshopped. Also, as the documents are perfectly readable, it is unlikely that time must be spent transcribing them. The only trepidation I have about this is in terms of the eventual search mechanism and how it will have to hinge on very impressive meta-data and tagging.

Documents within the ILA collection at the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives will be scanned first. The next set of documents to be scanned will be selections from The New York Longshoreman. These papers in particular are probably the most fragile and all scanners (students and higher staff alike) will be instructed on proper handling and care of the originals. Selected media clippings will be the last to be scanned.

Scanning will be done by all staff. This will move along the process faster by having more hands and time devoted to the process but also will familiarize the entire staff with problems and issues which come up (which in turn facilitates quicker and more tenable solutions to these problems).

I have not been able to decide on what sort of naming convention the scanning should use as the files are created. At this point I think a simple number system is best. Multiple page documents will have dashes with extra numbers to denote this. Scanners will work simultaneously with the database to make sure proper file names are logged, image file paths are correct, and certain relevant information is recorded for each file: provenance, original dimensions, date scanned, date of object, and page (when possible).

Below you will find two example scans. The first scan is an anti-Joe Ryan flyer (postcard sized) circulated by one of the Rank and File committees. The second image is a two page spread from one of the more interesting and colorful anti-Joe Ryan pamphlets in the collection. A third scan I made of one of the covers of the amazingly valuable (in my esteem) New York Longshoreman can be found on my project's main page. - I’ve purposely made these scans not clickable and smaller than their scanned size. I made them smaller because even as 300 dpi scans, these are huge images. The second image you see here is 3 times as large in its original size (and is completely clear and crisp at that resolution as well, going to show how wholly unnecessary 600 dpi is for this project and projects like it). I have also not made them clickable because I imagine that for the project itself as long as the document is readable (and has whatever other relevant information provided) there is no need to give the image at its full size. There will eventually be a mechanism in place for people to ask for higher quality versions and in that case they can be provided with the actual file in its largest form.

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