The Conversation: Building a digital archive for decaying paper documents, preserving centuries of records about enslaved people. “The goal is to ensure this information – including some from documents that no longer exist physically – is accessible to future generations. But preserving history by taking high-resolution photographs of centuries-old documents is only the beginning. Technological advances help scholars and archivists like me do a better job of preserving these records and learning from them, but don’t always make it easy.”
Island Free Press: Paper Nautical Charts Will Disappear as Waterway Maps Become Digitized. “Paper nautical charts will soon be sinking into the horizon, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this month announced its plan to sunset over five years the hard copy maps of the nation’s waterways. Although NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has for years offered several digital formats for raster charts – that is, the electronic version of the paper chart – to print or download, the paper charts have also been provided by request. The electronic charts have been available since 1993.”
From Columbia Journalism Review, with a thanks to Wallace S. for the heads-up: ‘It does not feel like transparency’: Atlanta dumps 1.47 million pages of public records. “The scene [in Black Orpheus] draws an eerie portrait of the impossibility of finding information or human value in a bureaucracy bloated with paper. It came to mind recently after a singular decision by the City of Atlanta to release 1.47 million pages of documents to the press and public—on paper. Mayor Kasim Reed announced the release in a February 9 press conference, after weeks of dithering over open records requests by local media regarding a federal investigation into more than $1 million in bribes for city contracts.” Obstructive, mean-spirited, or ignorant of digital redacting techniques?
A library in New Zealand has created a Web site with 300 letters from World War I. “The work, which took the eight volunteers more than two years, follows the stories of Charlie McIntyre, Ernie McIntyre, Len Shepard and John Hall, with a combined total of more than 1700 pages of letters transcribed.” The Web site will launch March 1.
An amazing story from National Geographic: He Collected 12,000 Road Maps—Now We’re Discovering Their Secrets. “Robert Berlo got hooked on maps at an early age. As a kid growing up in San Francisco he’d pore over roadmaps in the backseat of the car on family vacations. Sometime around age 11 he started collecting them. By the time Berlo died in 2012 at 71 he’d amassed more than 12,000 roadmaps and atlases. But he did more than covet and collect them. Over the decades, Berlo spent countless hours mining his maps for data, creating tables, charts, graphs, and still more maps on everything from transportation systems to the population history of small towns. Now, Berlo’s collection is getting another life as a repository of previously hidden information.”
Israel’s State Archives is changing its policy on paper document access. “Israel’s State Archives (ISA) will no longer give researchers and the public access to its historical materials and documents once it starts putting digitized documents online.” Be sure to read the follow up interview with Israel’s state archivist.