Friday, 14 January 2011

Producing surrogates of Royal Edinburgh Hospital case books

This week, Ruth, our Paper Conservator, tells us about LHSA's surrogate production programme.

LHSA has a well-established programme producing surrogates (or second copies) of key items in the collection. This means that the important information held in the original item is also kept in another format: preservation belt and braces!

In the past we have created microfilm versions of iconic items, however, we have recently started an interesting new project focussing on the large series of patient case books (1840-1930) of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.  This project produces the traditional microfilm medium for long-term preservation along with TIFF images for easy access and use on the web.

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital collection is LHSA's most used set of records in academic, family and local history research.

Garden created by REH patients at Mackinnon House, 1950s.

So far, microfilm copies of the first two volumes of the case books series (1840-1845) have been produced, and from those microfilms TIFF images of every page in the volume are created. The work is complicated by the fact that each case book also has a number of enclosures (patient letters, drawings, test results etc.) that are stored separately. Each original volume and its enclosures have been imaged to ensure that the enclosures relating to a particular patient appear next to the relevant patient record in the volume. 

We will promote use of the microfilms and TIFFs for research use in the first instance in order to limit wear and tear on the original volumes.  Using the TIFFs, we hope to make these case books available online to facilitate easy access to this important and regularly used material.

Access to all patient records is managed in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, the Data Protection Act and the NHS Records Management Code of Practice.

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