23 November 2007

Scanning: Preserve, protect, share

World Vital Records announced its scanning service to preserve photographs, documents, videos and slides

The company decided to offer the family legacy-preservation service after learning that 91 percent of survey respondents expressed concern about digitizing and preserving family photos, videos and documents, while 50 percent said they were interested in uploading items to a secure site to share with selected family members.

All of us have old original photographs in albums or shoeboxes, old 16mm films, boxes of 35mm slides in glass or cardboard frames, deteriorating documents and much more in file cabinets or boxes stored in basements, attics, garages and closets.

If some catastrophe occurred (anything from a broken basement pipe to much worse, including fires, hurricanes and earthquakes), important family history would be lost forever. Perhaps now's the time to think about digitally protecting these materials?

My husband and I keep talking about transferring our 16mm wedding film to DVD, but haven't gotten around to it yet (procrastination is my middle name!). It's the only copy and it would be a shame to lose it forever. Digital copies of this unique item, as well as other important family resources, could be stored securely and also distributed to family, protecting and preserving the information.

A cousin in New Orleans had an old reel-to-reel taped interview in Yiddish with my great-grandmother, who died in 1963. I had asked for a copy for years but there was never a simple way to copy or share it. Guess what happened to that during Hurricane Katrina?

WVR also offers the option of uploading all scanned photos and storing them for free on a FamilyLink.com secure server.

According to World Vital Records release, videotapes, which deteriorate, have an expected life of 7-15 years, while DVDs have an expected life of 100-150 years. And film and photos, no matter how well stored, can fade, discolor, dry out, become brittle. I guess the only problem is whether people a century from now will have the proper equipment to play today's DVDs. After all, who today still has an 8-track player?

The WVR service will convert 8mm, 16mm, miniDVs and VHS tapes to DVD; scan photos and documents; digitize slides and negatives; and offers secure storage filing.

Check the WVR site for pricing and more information.

The most important thing - whether one uses a professional service like World Vital Records or scans resources at home - is to make copies of unique images and documents to preserve them and also to distribute to others.

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