Friday, 5 August 2011

x-rays: tackling long-term preservation

The orthopaedic case notes from the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital (ref: LHB30 CC/131) originally contained many x-ray photographs of patients’ limbs as their treatment progressed. The case notes date from 1932-1958, a period when x-rays were produced on unstable acetyl acetate, which slowly deteriorates over time giving off a characteristic vinegar smell. This reaction can be stalled but not halted therefore a digitisation project was carried out during 2004-2005 to make electronic copies of all of the x-rays. The digital images were stored on DVDs, however, they also deteriorate over time and run the risk of becoming unreadable if they get scratched.

A back-up procedure for LHSA’s digital images has been introduced to secure preservation over the longer term. Digital images at preservation standard (TIFF) are extremely large (sometimes over 4 gigabytes on each x-ray DVD) so they cannot be saved onto an ordinary PC, therefore a stand-alone hard drive is used to store LHSA’s larger digital files.

This week each of the x-ray DVDs has been copied to this hard drive to provide a back-up copy of the x-rays for the Archive, a process that takes about 15 minutes per DVD. Since the degraded x-rays could also damage the rest of the Archive collection and they are now copied, the originals will be disposed of in accordance with secure waste procedures to meet confidentiality legislation.

Stephen transferring x-ray images to the external hard drive

1 comment:

  1. That looks fascinating - what a brilliant project to be involved with!