THE CARIBBEAN NEWSPAPER IMAGING PROJECT
By Erich Kesse, Robert Harrell, Richard Phillips, and Cecilia Botero
This paper describes the University of Florida's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded
Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project: its goals, approaches and achievements. The
Project, designed to convert newspaper microfilm holdings to electronic images, is
described in context with previous preservation effort, together with discussion of the
limitations of microfilm as an access technology. A review of progress toward goals
establishes Project strategies while modeling the implementation of electronic imaging
guidelines and the adaptation of traditional technical skills from both cataloging and
analog imaging. Critique, particularly of pitfalls and failures, suggests areas for future
UNDERSTANDING THE PAST
Florida, its influx of immigrants from and volume of trade with the Caribbean, is almost as
much a member state of the Caribbean community as of the United States of America. In
Florida's research libraries, emphasis on the collection and preservation of Caribbean
resources has a long history rivaling that of Floridiana. The University of Florida, in
particular, maintains a large and rich collection of Caribbean archives and publications.
The collections are important to building an understanding of the region, bridging cultures,
and fostering economic ties. More recently, the collections, by virtue of their preservation
in microfilm and the loss of source-documents, have come to represent extensions of
various national archives. Legislative reports published by the government of Guyane
Frangaise and microfilmed by the University of Florida, for example, continue to exist only
The University of Florida began collecting Latin American and, particularly, Caribbean
research resources in the late 1920's. U.S. interest in the region at the time, already
attenuated by administration of Cuba at the end of the last century, had been heightened
by its occupation of Haiti beginning five years earlier in 1915. Following World War II
and the convergence of the Farmington Plan' with the application of microfilm technology,
a dedicated faculty and staff systematically built a vast collection today, more than 1.5
million items of Caribbean government documents, journals, manuscripts and archives,
maps, monographs, and newspapers. In its Latin American Collection alone, the
University of Florida Libraries holds more than 300,000 voluiies of printed materials; a
growing number of electronic resources; nearly 50,000 reels of positive microfilm; and, in
preservation storage, more than 8,500 reels of negative microfilm masters. The latter
represent more than 5 million exposures or 9.5 million pages. The fact that 7,000 reels of
microfilm masters are newspaper holdings indicates the collection development and
preservation effort emphasis.
Newspaper microfilming began in earnest in 1953. The Rockefeller Foundation funded a
technician, traveling throughout the Caribbean, with a portable microfilm camera to film
materials that could not be acquired otherwise. Many of these materials, today, continue
to exist only in microfilm. The University of Florida's microfilm masters are the archive of
several newspapers among them Cuba's Diario de la Marina and Haiti's Le Nouvelliste.
By the 1960s, supported by state funds, fed by standing orders, and empowered by
copyright legislation known as the Inter-American Agreement (1939), a'program of
microfilming Caribbean and Florida newspapers had been established. Today, the
program, which operates under national guidelines and standards for production,
duplication and archiving of microfilm for preservation, continues albeit more restricted by
changes in international and U.S. copyright legislation. Long standing agreements
between the University of Florida and University Microfilms International ensure the
availability and continued preservation of these materials as originally envisioned by the
Rockefeller Foundation and the Farmington Plan.
Microfilm technology advanced the collection and distribution of resources. Today, it
remains a reliable and cost effective means of long term preservation. Microfilm continues
to be the medium of choice for stability, life expectancy and image quality and especially
for large-format, small-font or fine-line source-documents such as maps and newspapers.
Microfilm's several limitations, however, afford it the distinction of least respected
information delivery format2. Microfilm must be used in situ and, usually, without the
benefits of indexing or relatively immediate image retrieval afforded by newer automated
information delivery formats.
Perhaps most limiting, microfilm is difficult to maintain and expensive to replace.
Microfilm deterioration begins whenever optimal environmental conditions or microfilm
readers are not adequately maintained. Attaining optimal conditions;particularly difficult
in Florida and the Caribbean basin countries that rely upon the microfilm, incurs its own
high cost;3 the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) control systems required
are neither inexpensive nor easily maintained. Increasingly, as well, the cost of
maintaining readers to service the microfilm is becoming difficult to bear. Once ubiquitous
microfilm readers and reader-printers are losing market share to multipurpose and more
ubiquitous computers. Replacement parts and service personnel for microfilm
readers/reader-printers are increasingly few. Taken together, the costs of acquiring,
maintaining, servicing and replacing microfilm is becoming prohibitive particularly
throughout the Caribbean where poor climate and weak economies converge.
The challenge, which the University of Florida and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
seek to manage through the Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project, is the development of
an electronic global resource sharing model, both feasible and economical, for information
in newspapers. Born of ideas defined by Yale University's Project Open Book4 and the
University of Michigan's now independent Journal Storage Project(JSTOR)5, the
Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project is at once hybrid and new. Stated Project goals6
> Convert approximately 132,500 microfilm exposures, (i.e., 265,000 pages/images)
the record of two newspapers: Cuba's Diario de la Marina and Haiti's Le
Nouvelliste,7 to digital images;
> Provide multi-lingual indexing in the newspaper's native language (i.e., Spanish and
French) and English;
> Implement cost recovery marketing in order to support conversion of additional
> Establish efficient, low cost models for facilities and productivity, which would
allow other institutions to share the burden of newspaper digitization.
Project completion would require examination of several additional issues.
MICROFILM TO DIGITAL CONVERSION ISSUES
Conversion issues were several: selection and configuration of a facility; file characteristics
and directory structures; source-document definition and condition, and work-force issues
Archives and Distribution
The definition of an archive was primary. As in Project Open Book, the microfilm would
remain the archive of source-document; both qualities of images and life expectancy under
optimal storage conditions were known.8 Multiple master storage sites and a monitoring
program based on national standard9 would ensure continued preservation. Moreover, the
resolution of digitized images of newspapers would only approximate that of the
To safeguard investment in the digital product, DAT (i.e., digital tape) would archive the
electronic files with an additional copy maintained in CD-ROM, the format elected for
distribution. Electronic archives would be placed and monitored in storage conditions that
meet existing standards. In many ways, the management of an electronic archive has been
with us for more than a decade in the form of locally held automated catalog-record tapes,
census information, and other electronic files.
Distribution of images via the Internet was considered but rejected during the planning
process. Internet distribution for both project titles would have required in excess of 197
GB of active storage space not available at the Project's start. Moreover, conveyance of
the images had its own problems. Though GIF-on-the-fly software would have made
images browsable without additional labor, GIFs were large enough, in terms of bytes-per-
image, to render remote access laboriously slow without large and dedicated bandwidth.
The graphical size of images was yet another problem. Images would not fit, legibly,
within a browser's viewing pane; awkward bi-directional scrolling was required. Further,
GIF's "lossy" conveyance reduced image quality. Adobe PDF files also were considered
but rejected. While easily distributable via the web, PDFs also reduced image quality.
The reduction of image quality in GIF and PDF files was evident, particularly, in image
areas most dependent on fine resolution such as the newspapers' classified sections. While
we continue to investigate Internet distribution, it was and remains our conclusion that this
form of distribution will not be viable until the problems listed above can be resolved.
Distribution of TIFF images bundled with a TIFF viewer and an index interface on a CD-
ROM, conforming to ISO 9660, 12 was elected.
The decision to build an imaging facility within the University Libraries was made during
the planning stage. At the time, the number of commercial facilities offering microfilm
conversion services was few and the fees charged by existing services was not considered
to be economical. The University's Preservation Department had the requisite managerial
and production experience, with its in-house microfilming facility,13 and had been building
the networking experience necessary to establish an in-house digitizing facility. Additional
knowledge of electronic imaging and digital formats was gained through the Cornell
University Digital Imaging Workshop,14 together with an exhaustive program of reading
and experimentation. Characteristics of the space needed were similar to that housing the
Department's microphotography facility. A vibrationless, dust-free environment,
darkened independently of adjacent offices was carved from existing space.
Microfilm scanning equipment selected by the University of Florida would have to support
intensive long-term use and produce images meeting a high image quality threshold as
suggested by Project Open Book and the Cornell Workshop. Equipment also would have
to be affordable in terms of producing images at the lowest possible cost. Several
microfilm scanners capable of meeting the quality requirements were available but would
have increased the final per-image cost several fold. The Mekel scanner, with software
components, used by Project Open Book, cost more than $100,000. The Minolta MS1000
scanner, including software, with which the Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project was
begun, cost less than $25,000. A second scanner, the Minolta MS3000, was added to
meet production targets less than one year after purchase of the MS 1000 at less than
The Minolta products provided acceptable dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution and gray scale.
They lacked the Mekel scanner's several automated features, but these were deemed
unnecessary owing to characteristics of the selected newspaper microfilms. The Minolta
equipment was capable of scanning to a depth of 400 dots per inch (dpi), regardless of
filming mode, but depended on resolution of the image projected on screen at the time of
imaging. The Mekel equipment, in comparison, was capable of scanning materials filmed
in two-up comic mode at 300 dpi and those filmed in two-up cine mode at 600 dpi.15 It
had no dependence on projected screen resolution; images were made directly from the
film. Characteristics of the microfilm (i.e., two-up comic mode) muted questions of
selection. The Minolta equipment was sufficient if not, in some ways, more versatile for
scanning newspapers on microfilm in two-up comic mode.
When the project began, a 486 CPU, 66 MHz workstation was the best available computer
to drive the scanners. Each workstation ran with 8 MB RAM and temporarily saved
scanned images to 2 GB hard-drives. While this configuration was adequate for Project
start-up, it was quickly determined that a more powerful configuration was needed to
increase productivity over scan-time. Each of the scanner workstations has been up-
graded to Intel Pentium CPU, 166 MHz, running with 32 MB RAM. Workstations were also
outfitted with 20-inch monochrome monitors to facilitate image quality assessment. In
addition, uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) became standard for all scanners and back-
up workstations, as well as for the server, guarding against electrical malfunction,
lightning strike, etc.
Working under a distributed computing model, other equipment was selected for remote
indexing, 4mm DAT backup, and CD-ROM distribution-product creation. Microfilm
scanners and other equipment were added to the Preservation Department's existing local
area network (LAN), an Intel Pentium CPU, 166 MHz server with 128 MB RAM, running
NOVELL 3.12. (Another hardware up-grade and migration to a Windows NT platform is
planned to increase speed and file management capabilities.) At the project's start, the
LAN consisted of 10 Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 workstations, connected by thin-wire
Ethernet, since up-graded to a dedicated hub using twisted pair, fast Ethernet. The server
has an 8 GB storage capacity with 4 GB dedicated to image file transfer, assessment, etc.
This capacity is sufficient for file processing only and requires nearly constant file
archiving. Throughput needs demanded similar attention be paid to bandwidth.
Bandwidth limitations necessitated transfer of images from server to the remote mastering
workstation equipped for both CD-ROM mastering and DAT backup.
Because of the magnitude of the files and the complexities of maintaining multiple user
access for inputting index records, in house digitizing requires a significant commitment of
Systems staff. Networking and workstation requirements should be given serious
consideration even for those programs that opt to out-source scanning. The facilities and
physical support structure required to perform image quality review'alone is not
File characteristics include scan depth; tonal qualities; file format; and compression. For
optimal image quality in library applications, these characteristics are defined by the
emerging standard established by the Cornell University Libraries.16 Scan depth (i.e., dpi)
and tonal qualities determine resolution. 17 File format and compression determine file size
It was determined that source-documents would be imaged at 400 dpi with 64 levels of
gray, the maximum level allowed by the Minolta scanners.19 The microfilm used for
newspaper filming is a high contrast medium which is essentially bitonal. Use of gray
scale in imaging would maintain any tonal qualities captured by the film in illustration and
fine or small print.20 Scanned files would be saved in the tagged image file format (TIFF),
using ITU T.6 (formerly, CCITT Group 4) compression, TIFF images with ITU T.6
compression are "lossless." File sizes, ranging between 0.8 and 1.4 MB compressed, and
the number of files to be saved, more than two hundred and sixty five thousand, obviated
saving files uncompressed. With compression, there was a nearly one-to-one conversion.
Production generated, on average, approximately one CD-ROM for every reel of microfilm
Article data tables used for indexing and abstracting were built as a FoxPro relational
database application. Delphi programming was used to build both a multi-user interface
for access to index and abstract entries and a viewer for access to images. Data elements
allowed record of newspaper and article titles; enumeration, pagination and column
numbers; author; subjects/index terms; and publication chronology and event dates, as well
as, searchable keyword abstracts in English and the newspaper's native language, French
Directory Structure and Indexing
Newspapers are readily adaptable to a directory structure that is intuitive to any user
insofar as their chronology suggests structure. Directories are arranged with title at the
top level, followed in cascading order by year of publication, month of publication, date of
publication, and section-and-page number. The front page of the Diario de laMarina's
June 1, 1956 issue, for example, equates to the file located at [drive letter]:/Diario/
1956/06/01/A01.tif. This scheme works well, in turn, when querying or parsing requests
from index-interface (i.e., relational database) and image-viewer programs.
This scheme, however, does not easily accommodate page-name anomalies in the source-
document. Failure to anticipate anomalies aside,21 anomalies that occur as a result of
printing or publication can be "corrected" only through indexing. Under the distributed
computing model employed by the Project, correction through indexing requires
coordination among indexing and imaging staff in referencing and naming anomalous files.
Misprints resulting in incorrect publication of chronology and pagination require
corrective action that is similar to but more proactive than attention shown to correct such
problems during microfilming for preservation. Without indexing, directory structure and
file naming conventions that do not impose a consecutive image numbering scheme are
unforgiving of anomalies in chronology and pagination. At the same time, consecutive
image numbering schemes without indexing prohibit intuitive image access; images must
be "paged" or viewed image by image. Our experience suggests that a directory structure
and file-naming scheme be standardized for serialized information and, particularly, for
information in newspapers.
This scheme also is not favorable toward the preservation practice of microfilming a single
page several times, at multiple densities, one optimized for the capture of text and another
optimized for the capture of illustration. In this Project, exposures optimized for text
capture were deemed most important and, therefore, scanned and saved with the standard
directory/file-name designation. Illustrations were rarely indexed, though several notable
and important illustrations were recorded. If the microfilm does indeed capture graphic
information better than the digital version, conversion of the exposure optimized for
illustration might not serve its intended purpose. When the exposure optimized for
illustration was scanned and saved, it was saved with additional designation, e.g., AOla.tif.
Because files saved with the additional designation could not be parsed by the index-
interface or viewer programs, their value was almost solely for purposes of quantifying
differences between the microfilm and digital versions.
It would also be advantageous to standardize, beyond the experience of this Project, the
data-elements used during indexing and abstracting of newspapers. While the practice of
this Project was to record information in a (relational) database that treated the image file
as an object in a table, this information could be recorded as Standardized General Mark-
up Language (SGML), metadata, or other file header information. The time constraints of
this project did not allow an opportunity to model indexed information in these ways. A
future secondary project may record index and other metadata in Text Encoding Initiative
(TEI-DTD) header markup attached to the image files. The University of Florida
Preservation Department is currently modeling an OCR application for newspapers
converted from microfilm, which may eventually encode full-text versions of select articles
using SGML or Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) applications of TEI-DTD. Results, in
an unindexed HTML version, may be seen in the Department's Eric Williams/Trinidad
Guardian Reporting Project web site at http://karamelik.uflib.ufl.edu/williams/guardian/.
The database method's advantage is that imaging and indexing can proceed separate from
or in advance of imaging, assuming agreed upon methods of relating the image object to
the index. It afforded time to review entries by area and language specialists working at
their own pace. Image objects could be committed to the electronic archive immediately.
Other methods build an index through tagging an existing image or file. This would have
required either indexing as imaging occurred or, more aptly suited to the Project's
distributed computing model, maintaining images in active disk space or an intermediary
file until fully tagged. Immediate indexing would have necessitated either in-put ready
indexing or a staff with an unlikely combination of imaging, indexing and language skills.
Preparation of in-put ready indexing would have required additional start-up time, which
was not available. Maintaining images in active disk space would have required additional
server and bandwidth resources, which would have slowed progress and decreased cost-
efficiency. Use of intermediary files would have necessitated an additional layer of
tracking and management.
Criteria for the selection of articles for the purpose of indexing and abstracting were
specific to the countries of publication. Indexing and abstracting of the Diario de la
Marina focused on issues and events in Cuba that led to the rise of the Communists, as
well as, the years immediately following the revolution. Articles detailing communist
activities; international relations, particularly United States/Cuba relations; economic
concerns with a direct impact on the revolutionary process, notably trade union activities;
and editorials as they reflect the socio-political thought and climate of Cuba between 1947
through 1961 were of particular interest. Indexing and abstracting ofLe Nouvelliste
focused on Haitian nation building between 1899 and 1979: its history, culture and
economic development. Articles detailing Haiti's relationship with foreign countries,
particularly the United States, were of particular interest. Indexing terms, a controlled
vocabulary derived from Library of Congress Subject Headings, reflect these interests.
Programming allows the indexer to associate up to five headings with any article and the
user to search using subject headings, as well as, any term used in the abstracts, whether
English, French or Spanish.
The source-document issues resulting from filming were several. Issues related to the
source-documents and the source-document microfilms had to be considered. Printer's
effects; shipping, binding and storage effects; embrittlement effects; paper characteristics;
and illustration and font sizes were issues of concern regarding the source-document.
Source-document lighting; processing and storage effects; orientation; reduction; exposure
and density; and resolution were issues of concern regarding the microfilm. Planning for
the work required assessment of the source very much as would have been necessary to
microfilm a source or generate paper facsimile from a microfilm. Traditional use of
random survey and interpolated data was made during planning. In retrospect, more
detailed analysis was required. The great variety of source-document and microfilming
characteristics proved assumptions based on survey to be inaccurate. The sample's 10%
level of confidence was inadequate.
The adage, "garbage in, garbage out," is a harsh solipsism to say that electronic.
technologies cannot reverse defects borne onto microfilm. Scanned from source-
documents, image defects such as staining or those resulting from creases and folds are
discernable from the text they obscure by gradient differentiation techniques.
Once committed to a high contrast medium such as microfilm, however, differentiation
between defect and text becomes unlikely. Text, readable through stains on the original, is
often no longer readable on microfilm.
Effects such as bleed-through, transference, and uneven or over-inking had to be noted in
order to assess the quality of individual scans. Minor but time consuming corrections to
improve hardware and software performance had to be made throughout the Project. The
nature and number of corrections demonstrated uniform conversion settings to be arbitrary
and would have rendered automated features of the Mekel equipment useless. More
detailed assessment might not have reduced this burden but would have assured Project
managers both of initially adequate staffing funds and a workforce, trained, from the start,
to deal with the broadest range of image defects.
The titles selected for conversion were microfilmed between 1957 and 1987. Some were
microfilmed by the University of Florida in their country of origin on portable equipment
and others, at the University of Florida on stationary equipment. While the most
consistently reported physical defect encountered was scratching, deterioration of the
microfilms' acetate base was evidenced by tears, curling and separation of the emulsion
from the base throughout the microfilm collection. Every imaginable effect of filming
practices also was encountered. The thirty years between 1957 and 1987 was a period of
increasing standardization; both the growth toward standard practice and every change in
standards can be seen on the microfilms, together with the defects of filming. Even
defects such as slight light imbalance on the surface of the source-document during filming
become troublesome during scanning of newspapers reduced twenty-one times onto
Not all problems noted could be corrected. Image enhancement techniques, e.g.,
dithering, despeckling, etc, could not be used effectively owing to the nature of high
contrast microfilm or the fine resolution ofbroadsheet newspapers on 35 mm microfilm.
Removal of scratches and errant marks, for example, could not be automated without the
loss or degradation of text. Manual removal was not cost effective. Moreover, when
manual correction was completed, the task often required native language skills. In
review, the exercise proved pointless; native language readers were able to adequately
discern words from obscured text.
Though enhancement and human intervention will likely remain a necessity if intelligent
character recognition (ICR) or optical character recognition (OCR)23 are to be employed on
scanned newspapers, improvements in software first must make the task more efficient and
cost effective. Corrections, which were cost effective, were largely mechanical and similar
to those undertaken during microfilming. Alignment problems, for example, required
rotation or deskewing. Source-document microfilm density problems, including over and
under exposure as well as inking effects, could be minimized by manipulating lighting
conditions during scanning.
Some problems were the result of the mechanism. Residue of spent filaments inside the
vacuum of the scanner's bulb produced image effects, for example, which required the
workforce to build expertise, differentiating the effects of bulb condition from unbalanced
inking, wearing or exposure.
Quality control of scanned images was performed through a process of benchmarking,
which made visual comparisons between the digital quality of an optimized image and
successive images, a method similar to that developed by Yale.24 Differences in method
were necessitated by differences in microfilms and source-documents. Project Open Book
assumed that scanned microfilm met or closely approximated current standard and
contained images of average book size filmed at reduction normal for books. The
Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project microfilm was produced prior to current standard
and contained images reduced more than twice that required for book microfilming.
The unit against which image quality comparisons were made was the smallest "e," usually
in the classified, of the microfilm. Benchmarking required "optimizing"2s the page
containing the "e" and comparing the clarity of text on scans subsequent to it.
Benchmarking, as "quality e measurement" in microfilming for preservation, was done
approximately every tenth image. Images were optimized approximately every 300 scans
or as the work-force changed. Benchmarking was partly art, requiring subjective
judgment, particularly when image density varied across a single page. Different scan
settings only improved the legibility of different parts of a given page.2 As much of the
microfilm that libraries depend upon has not been produced to the level of current
standard, problems associated with conversion of substandard microfilm require further
Display size of the scanned source-documents represented additional problems. Display at
a one-to-one ratio was too large to fit and easily navigate on screen. Display at reduction
to fit or navigate easily on screen rendered text illegible. The solution was programming
of a TIFF viewer containing a "magnifying glass".2 Images are opened,to fit on screen in
a "window" containing a magnifying glass that can be moved by dragging the device over
the image. The image area beneath the magnifying glass is displayed legibly in a separate
window. This solution also resolved the problem of fees and legal agreements associated
with embedding image viewer software on the CD-ROM with the images and index; the
use of a viewer programmed by the Project would incur no additional costs.
Other than its indexing component and the use of older microfilms, the Caribbean
Newspaper Imaging Project most differed from Yale's Project Open Book in staffing.28
Trained and managed by permanent staff, student assistants were hired to perform the bulk
of tasks. Students were available in a large pool, inexpensive, easily trained and often
highly computer literate or fluent in French or Spanish. While use of a student workforce
had its disadvantages, e.g., high turnover, high levels of supervision, retraining,
scheduling, consistency of product, its pay-off was in low cost. Student staffing reduced
costs to near two-thirds that which permanent staff would have incurred. Intensive
training and review of performance and products assured quality and consistency of
product while lowering per image costs from those calculated for the employment of full-
time staff during project planning.
Indexing routines were supervised and work reviewed by three Latin American and
language specialists. Approximately 2 FTE part-time staff was employed to index and
abstract. Part-time staff was paid $6.50 per hour and did not accrue benefits. Native
French speakers, mostly from Haiti but also from the French Caribbean and French north
and west Africa, indexed and abstracted articles from Le Nouvelliste. A small pool of
available French speakers slowed completion of the task. Native Spanish speakers, largely
of Cuban descent, indexed and abstracted the Diario de la Marina. In both cases,
indexing and abstracting were done in the native language and later translated into
English, completing bilingual indexing requirements. More than 20,000 articles were
indexed and a minimum of one article per issue was abstracted. Article selection was at
the discretion of the indexer/abstracter within criteria established by the Latin American
specialists. Quality control and editing were subsequently completed by the specialists.
Imaging routines were established and images reviewed by a reprographics specialist who
also managed DAT archiving and CD-ROM production. Approximately 2 FTE part-time
staff, a sufficiently stable workforce, was employed to image the microfilm. Part-time
staff was paid $5.00 per hour (i.e., slightly above the minimum wage at that time) and, for
the most part, did not accrue benefits. Two-hour shifts were maintained in order to
optimize attention and minimize the risks of eyestrain and repetitive stress syndrome. The
average employee scanned at a rate of 1.25 images per minute (IPM). Those staff whose
productivity was low 0.5 IPM was the lowest recorded or whose accuracy or image
quality was consistently low were dismissed. The reprographics specialist, who worked
regular shifts to maintain skills and demonstrate efficiencies, was frequently able to
produce images of acceptable quality at rates in excess of 2.75 IPM. Most efficiencies,
other than those gained through networking up-grades, were achieved through mechanical
means, e.g., film advance techniques. Other measures such as the two-hour shift,
however, resulted in equal gain. With both microfilm scanners operating, an average of
1.5 GB of scanned images was produced each day of operation. Scanners operated
between 65 and 120 hours per week.
Systems support staff included FoxPro and Delphi programmers, as well as, a network
trouble-shooter. Network software was configured by Systems staff but administered by
Preservation staff, the network actually pre-dated the Project and was expanded to
accommodate it. Insofar as programmers' work may be borrowed or adapted, other
projects working from the experience of this Project should not require as much or the
same type of programming assistance. Networking requirements, hardware and bandwidth
use grew rapidly throughout the Project and were associated predominantly with up-
grades to increase performance. Networking speed was the single most important factor
in increasing productivity and decreasing costs.
PROJECT STATISTICS AND COSTS
Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project digitization ofLe Nouvelliste and Diario de la
Marina comprises more than 20,000 index entries, 40,000 abstracts and 265,000 images.
In total, indices, abstracts and images occupy more than 200 GB. Images, alone, fill 98
archived 2 GB DAT or 329 distribution-ready 650 MB CD-ROMs. CD-ROMs contain images,
a viewer, and indices and abstracts for the images on each CD-ROM. Images are available
by title, date or subject, supplied on CD-ROM, with other distribution formats negotiable.
Project costs were calculated to include labor, media and equipment costs. Labor costs
included wages, salaries and benefits paid to part-time and full-time staff for indexing and
abstracting, imaging and related functions, and software development and network
support. The table, below, is a summary accounting of expenditures per image.
EXPENDITURE CLASS COST
Media (DAT and CD-ROM) ......................$ 0.01
Hardware & Software ...........................$ 0.11*
Scanning & Archive Mastering ..........$ 0.08
Indexing & Abstracting ........................$ 0.08**
Programming & Systems Support ...........$ 0.16-*
Project Administration ............................$ 0.06
TOTAL PER IMAGE COST ...........................$ 0.50
Hardware and software costs including purchases and up-grades were based on equipment
life of five years and prorated for the life of the Project. Of the total hardware and software
costs, S 0.10 per image supported scanning and archive mastering; S 0.01 per image
supported indexing and abstracting.
** Calculated per article indexed and abstracted, the actual cost of Indexing & Abstracting
Imaging costs are comparable to those reported by Yale.29 Costs excluded network
storage, transaction, maintenance fees and wire costs which might have been included had
a network not been previously owned and operated. These costs also appear to have been
excluded from summary data produced by Yale.
The Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project establishes yet another model for digitization,
one of the first to deal with newspapers on microfilm. Among Project goals, only cost
recovery through sales has yet to be achieved. In some ways, the creation of a large image
viewer for example, the Project exceeds its goals. The Project, while not directly
comparable to other implementation demonstrations such as Yale University's Project
Open Book, provides summarized cost data on par with the most cost efficient of those
The Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project builds new experience for digitization of texts
from microfilm predating current "standard" practice. It suggests means of classifying and
naming, indexing and abstracting newspapers and places a price on these practices, albeit
high. Building on this Project, related secondary projects, such as the on-going Eric
Williams/Trinidad Guardian Project (http://karamelik.uflib.ufl.edu/...), explore the
possibilities and costs associated with optical character recognition (OCR), adding full-
text for select, highly significant articles.
The technical experience of this Project and other projects warily suggests that
microfilming guidelines be reviewed and revised for the benefit of future digitization. At
the time current standards were written, microfilming was a child we wanted to raise
correctly. Today, microfilming has entered an adulthood, about to become a parent whose
bad habits may be passed on to the next generation of technology's products. In recent
months, at its summer 1997 meeting, the Association of Research Libraries has authorized
a task force to investigate this suggestion. It is hoped that the reports of this task force
will effect changes in the practice of microfilming which will optimize and further reduce
costs associated with digitizing microfilmed source-documents including newspapers.
1. The Farmington Plan was a cooperative collection development plan begun in 1948
and joined voluntarily by American libraries as a means of increasing the number of
resources, largely of foreign origin, available to researchers in the United States. The
University of Florida assumed "country responsibilities" for materials published in the
Caribbean basin. With its presence in the Seminar"on Acquisitions of Latin American
Library Materials (SALALM) and the Latin American Microfilming Project (LAMP), the
University continues to meet these responsibilities.
2. Cf, Anderson, Arthur James. "Faculty to library director: we hate microfilm." Library
Journal, v.113 (Oct. 15, 1988), p.50-52.
3. While the University of Florida stores microfilm masters under exacting conditions
prescribe by national standards (cf, http://karamelik.uflib.ufl.edu/repro/GIVE WEB
ADDRESS), its storage of microfilm for research use is optimized for human comfort
and inadequate for microfilm longevity.
4. The Commission on Preservation and Access has published information about Project
Open Book. Cf,
(a) Waters, Donald and Shari Weaver. The organizational phase of Project Open
Book: a report to the Commission on Preservation and Access on the status of an
effort to convert microfilm to digital imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission
on Preservation and Access, 1992). Reprinted in: Microform Review. v.22,n.4
(Fall 1993), p. 152-159.
(b) Conway, Paul and Shari Weaver. The setup phase of Project Open Book: a report
to the Commission on Preservation and Access on the status of an effort to
convert microfilm to digital imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission on
Preservation and Access, 1994). Reprinted in: Microform Review. v.23,n.3
(Summer 1994), p.110-119.
5. Cf, the JSTOR web site at http://www.istor.com/
6. Additional information about the Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project and its goals
may be found at the Project's web site, http://karamelik.uflib.ufl.edu/proiects/mellon/
7. These titles were selected from the more than 100 in the University's archive of
newspaper microfilm masters because of their relevance to current events and the
importance of their countries of origin in the affairs of the United States and the
history of the Caribbean basin. For more information particularly the selection of
each title, see the Project's web site.
8. Cf, Lauder, John. "Digitization of microfilm: a Scottish perspective." (Microform
Review. v.24, n.4 (Fall 1995), p.178-181.)
9. Association for Information and Image Management. Standard for information and
image management recommended practice for inspection of stored silver-gelatin
microform for evidence of deterioration. (ANSI/AIIM MS45-1990) Silver Spring,
MD : the Association, 1990.
10. White, William. "Image quality in analog and digital microtechniques." (Microform
Review. v.20, n.1 (Winter 1991), p.30-32.
11. The Minolta Corporation's free TIFF viewer plug-in for Internet Explorer and
Netscape (cf, http://www.minoltausa.com/low/static/tiff plugin/tiff view.html) alleviates some
of the problems associated with both image size and browser access to TIFF files, but
does not reduce download time; TIFF files are larger than those of other file formats.
12. International Standards Organization. Information processing -- Volume and file
structure of CD-ROM for information interchange. [ISO 9660:1988] Geneva,
Switzerland: the Organization, 1988.
13. The Preservation Department produces more than 500,000 exposures annually. Its
managerial staff, who have served on industry and library standards committees,
oversee the production of microfilm in compliance with American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) and Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM)
standards and Research Libraries Group guidelines.
14. The Workshop manual, authored by Anne R. Kenney and Stephen Chapman, has been
published as Digital imaging for libraries and archives (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Library, 1996).
15. Conway, Paul and Shari Weaver. The setup phase of Project Open Book: a report to
the Commission on Preservation and Access on the status of an effort to convert
microfilm to digital imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and
Access, 1994), p.15. Reprinted in: Microform Review. v.23, n.3 (Summer 1994),
16. Kenney, Anne R and Stephen Chapman. Digital imaging for libraries and archives.
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 1996).
17. Resolution as it relates to photographic and electronic imaging. Technical report,
TR26-1993. (Silver Spring, MD: Association for Information and Image
18. For definition, see: Glossary of imaging technology. Technical report, TR2-1992.
(Silver Spring, MD: Association for Information and Image Management, 1992).
19. Initially, Minolta software allowed a maximum of 16 levels of gray. Though early
images from the Nouvelliste were made at 16 rather than 64 levels of gray, the
difference is minimal, most tonal quality having been lost as a result of microfilm.
20. Many images made from the Diario were bi-tonal rather than gray-scale. High
contrast microfilming, necessitated for the capture of its faint print, virtually reduced
illustrations to black and white. Bi-tonal imaging resulted in savings of file space that
out-weighed the slight advantage of gray-scale imaging in this case.
21. Conjunction of section letters with page numbers (e.g.rAO1, A02) in the file name
results as a failure to fully review and define the characteristics of publication. While
reasonably intuitive, the conjunction requires additional programming in the index-
interface and image-viewer programs to distinguish and correctly query and parse
numeric and alphanumeric file names.
22. For a more detailed description of source-document issues, see: Conway, Paul and
Shari Weaver. The setup phase of Project Open Book: a report to the Commission on
Preservation and Access on the status of an effort to convert microfilm to digital
imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access, 1994), p.6-9.
Reprinted in: Microform Review. v.23, n.3 (Summer 1994), p.l 11-112.
23. For definition, see: Glossary of imaging technology. Technical report, TR2-1992.
(Silver Spring, MD: Association for Information and Image Management, 1992).
Application of ICR or OCR on imaged newspapers, especially those converted from
microfilm is problematic also for other reasons, principally, the digital resolution
requirements of software currently available.
24. Conway, Paul and Shari Weaver. The setup phase of Project Open Book: a report to
the Commission on Preservation and Access on the status of an effort to convert
microfilm to digital imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and
Access, 1994), p.10-11.
25. "Optimization" entailed clarifying the digital image though manipulation of scan-
settings. Scans of the image containing the "e" were enlarged, sometimes to the point
of pixelation; the scan with the best settings produced the least blocking. Periodically,
images were printed out and compared as described by Yale, but this method
produced results no better than had been produced by visual comparison of on-screen
26. Albeit, as a single setting per frame. Minolta equipment does not support
"windowing," i.e., the ability to optimize for illustration with one setting and for text
with another setting in one scan. Yale reports similar limitation with Mekel
equipment; cf, Conway, Paul and Shari Weaver. The setup phase of Project Open
Book: a report to the Commission on Preservation andAccess on the statusof an
effort to convert microfilm to digital imagery. (Washington, D.C.: Commission on
Preservation and Access, 1994), p. 15. Reprinted in: Microform Review. v.23, n.3
(Summer 1994), p.9.
Use of image composition software, e.g., Adobe Photoshop or Paintshop Pro, to
achieve this result both was cost prohibitive and yielded inadequate results. The high
contrast medium of microfilm had irrevocably damaged tonal qualities of most
27. The TIFF viewer is available as unsupported freeware from [GIVE WEB ADDRESS].
Its interface has been programmed for the Project, but also allows use with other large
digital documents such as maps.
28. Cf, Conway, Paul. "Yale University Library's Project Open Book." D-Lib magazine
(February 1996) [published electronically at:
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/februarv96/vale/02conwav.html/] for discussion of staffing.
29. Ibid. Project Open Book did not incur indexing and abstracting costs as did the
Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project. Caribbean Newspaper Imaging Project cost
reporting separates indexing and abstracting costs from unaging costs in order to
establish some degree of comparability.