What Factors Affect Digital Restoration?
There are a handful of incremental steps involved in digital document restoration, depending on the material you wish to digitize and how you want the final digital product to be utilized. When evaluating the effort involved in restoring digital documents, an archivist might ask these questions about the physical material:
- How old is the document?
- What is the document made of (parchment, lightweight paper, stationery, cardstock, photographs, etc.)?
- What is the condition of the document?
- How extensive is the collection?
- What is your vision for the collection and how would you like it to be shared?
Newer documents, like stored office records, may not require much restoration.
How are Documents Digitally Restored?
When done correctly, scanning the physical document does no damage to the original material.
First, the archivists conduct a page by page review. When papers get shuffled during moves or when multiple people are using documents for research, it’s easy to misplace pages. This step ensures that each page is documented and none are missing or out of order.
Each page is also checked for quality and any damage. Is there a tear in a corner or is some text barely legible? This phase is for documenting anything that might hinder the next step. If a page has a tear, it should be repaired with archival tape and it should absolutely not be fed through a scanner feed. If a page has light text, the scanner’s settings should be changed. Digital archivists will note any missing or damaged text as well. The pages are then scanned.
Once the pages are scanned, archivists carefully examine the images, and then perform image cleanup. During this stage of digitization, the images undergo extreme scrutiny and notes are made on anything that could be improved on the image. Per your specifications, archivists can remedy many image problems, whether it’s smeared text or lines from wrinkles on an old book page.
At this point, our archivists bring the collection into the best condition for your needs. Digital document restoration can take many forms. Is your goal to present the collection as it would have appeared at the time of publication? Or perhaps you’d like to display the document as it exists now, flaws and all. The process for restoration is based on these different end goals. Archivists will work with you to decide on the most effective way to digitally restore your document according to your intention and needs.