Access and Use
Enhancing Access to and Use of Richter's Data
Access and Use Issuesby Nancy McCall
The physical instability of the original paper-based records and the contamination from lead
dust are the most compelling reasons to transfer the data and information from these
records to another medium. Since microfilm, a medium preferred by many archivists, poses
impediments to access and use, we are considering conversion to electronic formats. Other
reasons involve the storage, access, and retrieval problems that are associated with this large-scale
collection of records in non-standard sizes.
Our proposed approach for the conversion of data involves the following two electronic
- Data entry of registers and logbooks
- Imaging of charts
For the past year we have experimented with numerous imaging and data entry processes to test
the conversion of data from logbooks, activity charts, and Esterline Angus charts to electronic
formats. Throughout this testing period we have kept in touch with potential users of the data and
sought their reaction to access and use of the data in various electronic formats. At this point, we
find that the data are more accessible and usable in the following electronic formats:
- Data entry - To preserve the numeric inferences of the logbook data, we
chose to do data entry of the inscribed logbook data. By triple-keying logbook data, we were able
to achieve a higher degree of accuracy than optical character recognition (OCR) programs
provide. We keyed the data in an ASCII comma-delimited format so that data would be accessible
to a broader group of users. The ASCII files may be downloaded
into a wide variety of data management software.
- Color scanning - We have included scanned images of the logbook pages to provide the context for the data
in ASCII text. Because of the faint lead pencil entries,
we have color scanned the pages.
Esterline Angus charts
- Color scanning - Because the Esterline Angus charts are large and
unwieldy, our first step toward digital conversion was to produce 4" x 5" color transparencies
and then scan the transparencies. Since these charts are essentially used only for binary pattern
recognition, it may be possible to rely on black and white images. Color images are more costly to
use and take up more disk space and bandwidth.
Because the activity charts are also large, non-standard sizes, we first had color transparencies
produced, and then we scanned from these. Because these charts have color coding and faint
pencil tracings, it is imperative that color images be produced.