Digitisation – April 2016

The last month and a half has seen several new projects starting in the Digitisation Studio. The team has grown from four staff to eight so the studio is much busier. The projects all last for about six to nine months each so we will be having a very productive summer!

The first project is scanning microfilms of material from our Central Records Office. This involves using a specialist microfilm scanner which has been a new experience for us all. We have also been using the old microfilm winder to rewind some of the tapes once we’ve digitised them.

The images produced from the microfilm are not particularly large files, but the sheer number produced (potentially about 40,000 per day) has made us think a lot about storage space. As with the physical items and shelf space, we only have limited digital shelf space so do have to consider which files are worth keeping long term. At least we are able to extend the digital storage a little more easily than we are the physical space of the Library!

The second project covers a number of our most popular collections relating to cookery, Shakespeare and student newspapers. As most of this material is much more detailed than the CRO material we capture less images in the same amount of time but they are a higher resolution so still use up our storage space.

The third project is to digitise some of our cellulose nitrate negatives. These are on film which is degrading with time and so it is important we capture the images before it is too late. The negatives currently being scanned contain images by Godfrey Bingley reflecting his interests in geology and local architecture. Later on, the project will involve digitising some Arthur Ransome negatives.


The team is also supporting other work that has been covered in previous blogposts. The letters by Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo are being digitised to be added to the new catalogue records. These will be appearing online over the next few weeks.

For the Medical Collections project we have been stitching together opposing pages in the Leeds General Cemetery burial registers. The registers need to be supported to protect the binding whilst being photographed so they cannot be opened completely flat. The pages are taken as separate images but the records run over the two pages. We are using image processing software to stitch the images together so the records can be easily read and transcribed. These will be available online in the autumn.


Insight from an Intern

Footsteps into Art Intern Dominique Triggs offers some insight into her experience on the project so far.


Since starting my internship last October I have already learnt so much and gained experience in different areas.
Workshop-wise I have gradually gained more responsibility in the planning, preparation and delivery of workshops. The project started with draw workshops, and my role in these was to assist Claire and Jennyanne, as well as observing and evaluating the sessions.This allowed me to see a workshop in action, and take notes on what i could bring to a workshop later on in the project. The next set of workshops focused on printing (specifically mono-printing and block-printing). Claire planned the block-printing part of the session, but I was to deliver it. This was a great opportunity to use what I had learnt from my observation of the drawing workshops and put it into practice.

Building on from this I was then asked to plan my own sculpture based workshop. Delivering a workshop that I had planned and prepared for was incredibly rewarding, especially when I received positive feedback from the children and their teachers in our post-workshop evaluations. I was quite nervous about the possibility of delivering to start with, but Claire’s system of increasing my responsibility with each set of workshops really worked for me, and meant by the time the sculpture workshop came around I was a lot more confident.
Working in the gallery has also allowed me to further discover what is involved in working in the heritage sector. Seeing what different job roles involved and talking to other members of staff about their work has been really enlightening. Also just being around the gallery so regularly has allowed me to see what is involved in exhibiting temporary exhibitions, and since starting I have seen ‘Maurice de Sausmarez 1915-1969’ and Michael Lyons ‘Freeze Frame’, I have also been lucky enough to see the opening of the new Treasures Gallery whilst working here, and it was great to see all members of staff hard work pay off at the successful exhibition opening.
My internship ends in July, but with plans for in-school workshops and an exhibition of all the children’s work, I know I still have a lot to learn before then!