In addition to proper storage, another way to prevent damage to the original slides is by digitizing them. This reduces the need to handle the originals and allows them to stay in secure storage.
Also, it improves access to the slides. Once digitized, they can be shared online and viewed without the need for a glass slide projector (which can be a bit unwieldy). It is also an opportunity to
- catalog the slides
- note any existing damage
- clean the slides
- re-house the slides in a safer way
However, digitization brings about its own set of risks. It involves the increased handling of fragile materials. Items that might have stayed in a box for years without incident must be touched.
To mitigate these risks,
- we wore gloves when handling the slides (to prevent fingerprints),
- placed a soft rug under the work area (to cushion any dropped slides)
Lantern slides present some complications when digitizing. One complication with the slides is that the images are backlit so that the scanner can capture the image data; however, that results in the label being too dark to read. In order to give a user the benefit of seeing both the slide and its caption, we batch edited all the raw scans in PhotoShop so that those captions would be readable. We ended up with a batch of high-resolution .tif files scanned at 1600 pixels per inch, and then a smaller 300 dpi derivative with visible captions.
Pictured above is an original .tif scan. These scans are large in size and difficult to store, upload, and view online. The label is illegible, which denies the viewer information regarding the original slides. The edited scans show the original labels written by the CCC staff. Showing these labels is important because it allows up to catch possible mistakes in the data. Occasionally, the writing on slides is illegible which creates gaps in information in the metadata. Hopefully, these gaps can be filled in the future with the help of viewers of the scanned slides.