Thursday, May 30, 2019

State Archives to Get New Equipment

Brian Irby, archival assistant, demonstrates using microfilm at the Arkansas 
State Archives. The microfilm scanner is similar to the new scanners being installed.
Visitors to the Arkansas State Archives and its two branches soon will be able to use new equipment to comb through records more easily.

“The Arkansas State Archives seeks to make its material more readily accessible – that includes having equipment that encourages and enhances the research experience,” said Dr. Wendy Richter, state historian and director of the State Archives. “I think our patrons will be very impressed with the improvements.”

Five new microfilm scanners will be installed in the main research room in Little Rock, and two more will go in the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington. The new scanners will improve photocopy quality from microfilm and meet the increased demand for copies from patrons. The microfilm scanners will also allow patrons to save digital images of the microfilm.

“These equipment upgrades allow us to stay relevant to our patrons,” said Lauren Jarvis, public services manager.

The new scanners will allow users to clean up or manipulate the film image to get a cleaner and easier-to-read copy. The large, 34-inch monitors will make viewing material easier, especially for people doing extensive research using the microfilm collection, Jarvis said.  More tables will be going in the Research Room to create more work stations for the microfilm scanners.

New staff member Wesley Oliver uses 
one of the new Epson Expression 
12000XL Photo Scanners that are being 
installed at the Arkansas State Archives.
The State Archives has also recently purchased other equipment to aid in the preservation and digitization of collections.  Eight flat file cabinets for maps, blueprints, large documents and photographs will be added to the main vault.  A set of extra-large flat file cabinets have been added to the State Archives’ space at the Department of Arkansas Heritage Collections Management Facility to house over-sized maps and other large documents. The State Archives has also purchased four new tabloid-sized flatbed scanners to expand digitization projects.

The new digital microfilm scanners and other equipment have mostly been funded through grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Staff plan to finish installing the new equipment by the end of August.

The upgrades were needed, Dr. Richter said, because some equipment had not been upgraded in about 10 years and was becoming difficult to maintain and troublesome to operate. Patrons have occasionally complained that a few rolls of microfilm are difficult to read or to get a good copy of on the current microfilm readers. However, the new digital readers will allow staff to address those issues, including microfilm that is too dark.

“This new equipment is something we are very excited about because we know it will improve the research experience for our patrons,” Dr. Richter said.