Digital records allow researchers to access a variety of documents at any time and from any place. Having records digitized saves on physical space for institutions and prevents human contact from degrading the artifact’s material. Microfilm offers longer life than paper records, smaller storage needs, and is surprisingly easy to use. However, both forms of storage have disadvantages. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of each.
Can be stored in rolls (microfilm) or flat (microfiche)
Stores images in a smaller format that can be enlarged for use.
The process to create microfilm images generally does not destroy the original
Microfilm cuts down on the handling of fragile documents
Once created, microfilm can be easily reproduced
Microfilm is not digital, so there are no online storage costs
Microfilm was deliberately designed to have a long shelf life
Technically, you only need a lens and a light source to use this
User interface can be hard to use
While text is generally fine, images often have resolution issues
Microfilm projectors are increasingly hard to find (the same problem exists for repairs)
Accessibility to users
Can be made accessible to a wide audience
Can create a record of an artifact that is in danger of becoming unusable (due to age or fading, for example)
Can serve as examples of what your organization has to offer (serves as outreach)
Can be backed up digitally (in a cloud)
Artifacts are safe from physical dangers such as pest, mold, water, etc…
Changing technology could make accessing digital artifacts problematic (What if the file format changes? What if a new operating system no longer uses the type of document that you’ve saved all your artifacts with. Think of floppy discs.)
The cost of on-line storage can be prohibitive. Don’t want to store on-line? Then your organization loses the benefit of accessibility.
It also costs time to make digital copies of original records
Multiple back-ups are needed, some should be off-line
Records could be prone to tampering, deletion, or corruption
Some records cannot be digitized due to frailness or their composition (silvering on photographs)
Records are likely not in their original order and thus lose their context or provenance
You must make sure you have the proper permission to share your digitized information. Some records should never be shared, some can be shared with permission.
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The United Lutheran Seminary A.R. Wentz Library is located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and houses both the Seminary Archives and Region 8 Archives.
The Seminary Archives contains materials relating to the history and day-to-day operations of the Seminary. It also houses papers from the Rev. Samuel Simon Schmucker (the founder of the Seminary) and those donated by former professors, presidents, and alumni.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Region 8 Archives is the official repository for five synods of ELCA Region 8: Allegheny Synod, Delaware-Maryland Synod, Lower Susquehanna Synod, Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod, and Upper Susquehanna Synod.
If you are interested in local Lutheran history, the Region 8 Archives is the place to be! Keep reading to learn more about the Region 8 Archives.
This blog post is post 1 of a 6-part series answering the most common questions about the Seminary and Region 8 Archives and archival practice written by summer intern, Anne-Louise Monn. Click here for the introductory post to learn more about the goal and scope of the project.
Have you heard the term archives before, but don’t really know what it is? Do you lump it in the same category as a library, museum, or historical society? Keep reading to learn more!
Recently the Seminary and Region 8 Archives hosted an intern for the 2018 summer. Anne-Louise Monn is a graduate student in the Applied History program has Shippensburg University and has a strong interest in local church history.
One of Anne-Louise’s projects was to strengthen the presence of the Region 8 Archives by creating a series of blog posts answering the most common questions about the Archives and archival practice. The goal of the project is to spread awareness about archives and specifically the Region 8 Archives, which many people outside the Seminary community do not know exist.
Some questions that Anne-Louise will answer include:
What’s an archives?
Why are archives important?
What types of materials do the Region 8 Archives hold?
How do patrons use an archives?
How can I maintain my own small archives if I’m a congregation?
What should be saved for the archives?
Can I donate materials to the Region 8 Archives?
Should I microfilm or digitize my records if I’m a congregation?
The staff at the Archives hope that this series will answer some of the common questions we receive from congregations and patrons as well as provide the community with some insight into what the archives does.
The blog posts will be posted weekly through August and September. We encourage you to follow along and share the blog posts on Facebook to help us spread the word!