Sharing our Knowledge
Part 12: Preservation Copy
Sharing our Knowledge is a series of articles about the Historian Archives Project and how you can become involved.
Why the Draper Manuscripts Exist
One of the initial goals of our Historian Archives project, is to protect those four large 4-drawer filing cabinets from natural disasters such as fire, flood, or tornado.
We do that by running every page through a scanner, one page at a time. That gives an image of every page. It’s a photograph, not searchable text. It’s not searchable or otherwise usable.
Scanning those pages will take countless hours. The result is less than useful. A picture of a page, on a computer screen, is not easy to use. It is a picture, not book text. That means you can’t search through the files for a particular name, or anything else.
So… Why is this important? We are creating a preservation copy that we hope we never need to look at again. If the original papers get destroyed by fire, water, or vermin, we still have the information in those scanned images. Without that preservation copy, everything would be gone forever.
Creating that preservation copy is a meticulous but undoubtedly boring project. Scan one page, then scan the next page, the next page, and the next. Keep those images correctly organized and cataloged. Move on to the next file folder, and the next.
Fortunately, this is a perfect case of “many hands make light work.” If we happen to have several people who understand the importance of the project, and are willing to take on a half dozen file folders at a time, we could perhaps finish that project in a single year.
Note that this Preservation Copy project does not include converting each page to text. We are making no attempt to interpret, transcribe, index, or retype the documents.
We are each extremely tempted to make those pages useful. However, that means the project will take literally 10 times as many hours. We’ll never finish!
Meanwhile, of course, we do have that row of filing cabinets full of useful information. How do we go about sharing that knowledge? That’s what the next step is all about – creating a manageable Future Updates program.
Please share your ideas!