Digitisation training in Lithuania

BY MICK NEWNHAM

It’s Wednesday and we have been joined by Ms Kara Van Malssen from Preservation Solutions in the USA. Kara and I have known and worked with each other for many years, including in training workshops and developing AV preservation laboratories in Ghana and the SOIMA ’09 workshop in India. Kara’s specialty is preservation planning, especially digital preservation. Today is comparatively easy for me as Kara takes the lead and my role is to add the occasional comment or case study illustration.

Vilnius University, the oldest university in eastern Europe

Thursday is devoted to digitsation. I start the day by briefly talking about digitisation of a signal to ensure that the students all have the basic level of understanding for the exercises to follow. The rest of the day is divided up into four sessions, each devoted to the digitisation of a particular media type: audio, still images, video and motion picture film. The Lithuanian National Archive has collections and digitisation facilities for each media and students rotate through a session on each. I explain film digitisation. The archive has recently purchased a state-of-the-art ARRISCAN film scanner complete with a wet gate. The wet gate reduces the appearance of existing light scratches in the film in the final output, rather than requiring additional image restoration to reduce this artefact.

During the afternoon a severe storm rages only briefly but still manages to wreak havoc in nearby parts of the city with trees falling across roads and bringing down trolley-bus power lines. After the session we have a reception with the local sponsors of the workshop and the Lithuanian Deputy Minister for Culture. The reception is held in Vilnius University, the oldest university in eastern Europe, in a beautiful part of the Old City. As always the hospitality of our hosts has been beyond compare.

Storm chaos in Vilnius

Friday is the final training day in Vilnius and Kara takes the lead for a day devoted to digital preservation. She takes the students through every aspect from file formats to databases and collection management. For the afternoon break our hosts have prepared a special celebration with a traditional Lithuanian ‘sakotis’, a cake made from dozens of eggs and cooked over an open flame, served with honey mead. This warm gesture of hospitality was greatly appreciated by the whole SOIMA contingent.

The conference has been a valuable experience for both myself and the students. Sharing the NFSA’s expertise in preservation technologies internationally is an important part of the Australian archive’s work. Nationally relevant archival content can be found anywhere in the world so it is to the advantage of all cultures that good preservation is practised worldwide.