Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ancestry.com Bloggers Day: DPS Tour

We were treated to a tour of Document Preservation Services (DPS) after Laryn Brown’s presentation. We were told this was the only place we could use our cameras, so of course I forgot and left my good camera behind. Fortunately, I still had my glasses and umbrella (wink, wink).

Digital Preservation Services (DPS) occupies a half floor in one of the two buildings at Ancestry.com. Workers were sandwiched into small cubicles with no sound barriers. It was like a hive of activity (right). Ancestry.com Digital Preservation Services
Microfilm scanner at Ancestry.com DPS Microfilm scanning is only done at the DPS facility in Provo, Utah. Any film that needs to be scanned is shipped here. Laryn Brown told us that they keep a high speed film scanner busy around the clock (left).
Images whirl by on the operator’s computer screen (right). While the scanner is capable of higher speeds, Ancestry.com limits the speed so the operator can perform a quick quality check on every image. Others perform more extensive checks (below). Images on the operator's monitor, Ancestry.com DPS
Ancestry.com Digital Preservation Services Ancestry.com Digital Preservation Services
Operator positions documents below a planetary camera Ancestry.com uses a planetary camera to digitize documents to fragile to run through a sheet-fed scanner. An operator places the documents on a flat surface underneath the scanner (left). The camera is mounted straight above the documents. The operator takes a picture, which is transferred directly into the computer (below).
Ancestry.com Digital Preservation Services camera The planetary camera transfers the image to a computer
Ancestry.com uses a Kirtas book scanner for high speed scanning of books. Two cameras are employed to photograph the left and right pages simultaneously (below). The scanner automatically turns pages (right). The Kirtas book scanner automatically turns book pages
Kirtas book scanner at Ancestry.com Ancestry.com Digital preservation services
While we were there, Ancestry.com proudly showed off some valuable records they saved from destruction. It hurt to see they were cutting off the spines so the pages could be fed through a sheet scanner. But it was good to realize that as a result, lots of people could get access. After we left, they asked us not to mention the records. They weren’t supposed to show us because the record set hasn’t been announced. Ancestry.com unidentified records
Ancestry.com DPS project tracking board Ancestry.com employee explains stuff about some sort of project development board. My memory fails me, but I think this room was used to track projects during imaging and keying? Maybe? (Left)
Ancestry 2010 DPS Project board Ancestry 2010 DPS Project board closeup
Another employee explains another project board, the purpose of which has again eluded me (above). I’m guessing that the board shows projects that are nearing publication. Each project has a flag and a photograph associated with it (above).
Canon DR-6050C Scanner Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the sheet-fed scanner Ancestry.com was using to scan the records that we weren’t supposed to see. The scanner is able to scan both sides of a page at once. It is the same scanner they take out to do free scanning for people. (More on that later.)

               

That’s it for our tour. Next week I’ll give you a report on the technology presentation by Mike Wolfgramm and Jonathan Young.

6 comments:

  1. Ack! Am I seeing a photo of someone touching photographs or postcard with their bare hands? This is not an archival standard!

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  2. Absolutely interesting article. And great photos, thank you so much for posting them.

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  3. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this. It's fascinating to see the "machine" behind the scenes.

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  4. It is interesting to see behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. It is great to get an inside peek at all of the archival activity at Ancestry.com! Thank you for posting this. I was especially happy to see mention of the microfilm scanning process, employing nextScan's Eclipse scanner. We truly did design this machine with such applications in mind - it is designed to run 24/7 with speeds up to 590 pages per minute. Thanks Again!

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  6. You've given us a peek into processes and facilities we'd never see otherwise. Thank you so much! It's quite interesting.

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