Blacksburg, Va. – VTLS Inc. digital imaging group has completed an important scanning project for The New York Public Library (NYPL). The Manhattan Facades Project involved digitizing contemporary conceptual artwork consisting of over 25,000 snapshot photographs depicting the buildings of Manhattan, part of a large Digital Library initiative the NYPL is launching free to the public this fall. In order to properly digitize and scan this material, VTLS carefully shepherded this project through three major phases including scanning, quality control and file management. VTLS Inc. employed the newest scanning equipment, created a controlled work environment and provided additional training to every scanning operator. The focus of the training was on new image capture software, color calibration techniques that ensured a perfect raw scan and prevented later adjustment of the image, and in the use of a self-assignment system.
“It was important to VTLS that the digitization of these photographs be flawless,” said Murray Crowder, Director of Multimedia. “VTLS is equipped with the right technology and a controlled environment to scan and digitize the most fragile collections.”
In order to ensure the safety of any collection, VTLS has created a new imaging room that is carefully constructed and maintained. The imaging room has temperature and humidity control, no direct sunlight, and UV protection on the lamps in the room to protect the documents from any possible damage during the scanning process. The documents are then stored in a vault with fire safe, powder shelf cabinets. Only authorized personnel have access to this vault. The acoustic ceiling tiles have been replaced with vinyl tiles and a new air filtration system has been installed to capture more dust particles.
VTLS was equally thorough in choosing the equipment and software to complete this project. In order to scan the pictures, VTLS used Epson flatbed scanners working in tandem with Mac G4 computers and calibrated LaCie monitors. Additional Mac G4 stations and LaCie monitors were used for quality control of the material. In order to ensure an accurate representation of facades collection, VTLS calibrated both the scanners and the monitors daily. This process enables the scanners to have the widest gamut of color possible. A wide gamut color profile embedded into each image allows for correct display of the image on other monitors and different system platforms.
“When VTLS receives material to be scanned we go through the entire collection and take an inventory of everything. With this information we build a record for each image and place it into a database. We use this database in a self- assignment system in which the operators check out the materials. Additionally, records are kept of who scanned the images, what scanning station was used, what time an image was scanned and specific target number if necessary,” said Mike Adamo who managed the NYPL project. “We use the same system for quality control that enables us to keep track of what stage of the process the material and scanned image is in. With the tracking method, if we have a scanner problem, target problem, calibration problem, or operator problem we can isolate it quickly and fix it.”
The digitization process consists of three phases. First, a target is scanned to guarantee that the scanner is properly calibrated then the photograph is scanned and a target number is assigned to the image. The black, white and gray points of the targets are noted. These numbers are necessary in comparing the original color of the image to the raw scan. Next, the image goes through a quality control process where the operator examines the image resolution, target values, border width and checks for imperfections like digital artifacts, banding, dust or dirt. At this point, the image may either be saved or rejected. If rejected by the operator, the image is rescanned. A trained quality control operator reviews every image in the collection. The operators that scan the images are not the same individuals who perform the quality control. When the image passes quality control it moves on to the third step of the process where it is filed on a database. Once all the images are digitized, VTLS transfers the database back to the customer. Checksum techniques are used to insure that the data is transferred without error.
For the Manhattan Facades project, NYPL required VTLS to capture the Technical Metadata for the scanned images. NYPL asked that three levels, the neighborhood, the block/item level and the photograph level be stored with the completed images.
“We are delighted that the New York Public Library project was completed to everyone's satisfaction,” said Dr. Vinod Chachra, President of VTLS Inc. “Facilitating the preservation of historical and other collections through digitization to reduce handling of the original artifacts is an increasing area of focus within VTLS.”
VTLS Inc. (www.vtls.com) is an ISO 9001 registered company. With over 25 years of experience creating smarter libraries, museums, archives and corporations, VTLS Inc. is an international leader in integrated library automation, digital imaging services and RFID technology. VTLS Inc. solutions include Virtua ILS - Integrated Library Systems, Visual MIS - Multimedia and Imaging Solutions and Vista CPS - Companion Product Suite. VTLS is a corporate member of the American Library Association, a voting member of NISO, and a charter member and sponsor of CNI. A diverse customer base of more than 900 libraries located in 32 countries gives VTLS a global perspective of the industry and compels the company to abide by strict international standards.