This post is of special interest to the mapping community and may be too technical for some researchers.
We digitize all of our images—photographs, maps and text—as TIFF master files, which are processed through our digital preservation system and preserved in our secure digital storage. We have been making all our digitized images available to researchers in our online search in JPG format. It allows us to make high-resolution files available in a fairly small size so they can be opened and viewed quickly. The quality is good enough for most uses.
Clicking on this map image will bring up the high-resolution JPG version, which can then be downloaded. Note the usual descriptive metadata below the image.
The mapping community has told us that JPG files are not good enough for their use. TIF or PNG formats give the best results when manipulating files in mapping software. The original scanned files, without any compression artifacts, would be the most useful.
To support the use and re-use of these valuable resources by everyone, we’re making losslessly compressed versions of the original TIFFs of our scanned maps available for download. We’ve added a link to the TIFF of a map to our online search as part of the descriptive record for that map.
Scroll down the description to find the link to the TIFF on the City’s FTP site.
So that you can verify that the file downloaded correctly and completely, we’ve included the full file size and the MD5 checksum.
We’d like to thank City Information Technology, whose recent upgrade of the City’s FTP site made it possible for us to make the files available this way.
In the last couple of years, we’ve been replacing our old, analogue microform reader-printers with new digital microform scanners. We’d like to show you why researchers like them so much.
Microform workstation with Indus 4601-SL scanner.
Microforms still have to be used by researchers, as we have hundreds of reels of film and thousands of fiche and aperture cards. These new scanners provide fast and convenient viewing and saving of images.
The workstations can be used with many styles of microform and will also scan to file or scan to print.
The scanners will work with all these different styles and colours of fiche, aperture card and film.
The scanners produce crisp, high-resolution scans and will scan in colour, greyscale or bi-tonal. Images can be cropped and rotated. Scans can be saved in common formats like PDF or TIFF.
Screenshot from a fire insurance plan.
The workstations have a wireless internet connection, so saved scans can be sent through email or dropped into cloud storage, as well as copied to a flash drive. Note that if you keep a copy of a work that is under copyright to a party that is not the City of Vancouver, you are responsible for obtaining permission of the copyright owner for publication. You may use the copy for fair dealing purposes covered by the Canadian Copyright Act, such as private study.
The scanners are attached to 27” monitors to provide a readable full-screen view of maps, plans and other large-format originals.
If you have used one of our microfilm scanners, we’d love to hear your feedback!
We have a very large and rare 1905 map in our holdings that was dirty and falling apart. Last year, we collaborated with the Land Title & Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) and the BC Archives to conserve and digitize it. This is the story of why that conservation treatment happened and how it was done.
Low-resolution version of Map of New Westminster District, 1905. Reference code AM1594-: MAP 138. A high-resolution version is available from our online search.
The 1905 Map of New Westminster District is almost 1 metre wide and over 2 metres long. It shows District Lots and other divisions of land for all of Metro Vancouver and as far east as Hope. Continue reading
In nearly every case, “historical geodata” means a paper map. Digitizing that map gives us an image of a paper map. While an image can be useful, historical maps turned into actionable data are much more useful. Moving geodata from paper to electronic data can be complicated and involve many actions, including:
- Describe the map accurately, preferably using standard terms
- Digitize the map
- Georectify the digitized image (associate points in the image with their geocoordinates, for example, so that the image can be positioned on OpenStreetmap or Google Maps exactly where it belongs)
- Extract image features—such as polygons, text, or contour lines—as digital layers
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, flagship building of the New York Public Library. Photographer Sue Bigelow.
From November 5-7, 2014, I attended a meeting of 54 people from three continents at the New York Public Library called Moving Historical Geodata to the Web. This meeting, including expenses for attendees, was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. We were the only archives and the only Canadian institution represented. Continue reading
Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve recently completed a project to digitize over eight thousand images from the Pacific National Exhibition fonds that you can easily view and re-use. In addition, we’ve digitized another 874 images that are under copyright to other parties, but which can be viewed at the Archives. The dates range from 1914 to 1980.
Man and woman eating foot-long hotdogs from P.N.E. Gayway concession stand, 1953. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-2219.
These photographs were either created for the P.N.E. or collected by the P.N.E. staff. They document a wide variety of activities at the fair, including rides, displays, competitions and performances.
Women on Sky Glider chair lift, 1971. Photographer Bob Tipple. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-6891.
Many buildings on the site are shown, including: Continue reading
In October, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) in Savannah, Georgia. Here are a few of the highlights.
One view of the vendor’s area of the conference. Photograph by Lindy Leong for AMIA
Christmas trees were burned at the beach. The Champlain Heights neighbourhood was developed. Vancouver submitted a bid for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. Civic elections were held every two years. The Georgia Viaduct was replaced. Habitat I was held here. The federal Local Initiatives Program funded many labour-intensive projects.
North side of intersection of Broadway and MacDonald Street, looking east, April, 1976. Reference code COV-S663-4—: CVA 800-286. Photographer Al Ingram.
Now you can easily explore all the issues discussed by City Council in the 1970s. We’ve made the minutes of Vancouver City Council meetings, along with the accompanying reports, searchable online. Continue reading
In early November, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) in Richmond, Virginia. Here are a few of the highlights.
Buttons from AudioVisual Preservation Solutions, consultants specializing in AV preservation.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is an association for many different types of professionals involved in the preservation and access of moving image heritage. Members come from all over the world to attend the conference.
In partnership with the Digital Library Federation, AMIA held its first Hack Day. Software developers and non-developers (like me!) spent a day solving problems. I was part of the group of non-developers that created a guide to using FFmpeg software which was aimed at archivists who would like to use it but find it too complex. We put the guide on a wiki, expecting it to become more useful as information is added. Our group won one of the jury prizes. Continue reading
Thanks to funding provided by the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, we have been able to describe and digitize over one thousand of James Crookall’s images and make them available online.
James Crookall was born November 7, 1887 in Preston, Lancashire, and came to Vancouver as a child. Throughout his life, Crookall was an avid amateur photographer and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. He was an active member of the Vancouver Photographic Society and regularly exhibited his photographs in international salons. He died on July 27, 1960, and his fonds was donated to the Archives by Mrs. Doris Crookall in 1979.
Self portrait, 1938. Reference code AM640-: CVA 260-978.
Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve completed a project to digitize 512 maps and plans in our holdings. Here are some highlights from the project. We’ve provided links to descriptions in our database so you can click through to the full-resolution versions of the maps if you’d like to examine them in detail. Here’s the link for the map below.
Panoramic view of the City of Vancouver, 1898. Detail from reference code AM1594-: MAP 547
The project makes these maps available to everyone quickly online, and makes them easy to re-use. It reduces damage to the oversized originals due to handling, as they no longer have to be retrieved from storage. Very light-sensitive materials, like blueprints, may be kept in the dark so they don’t fade. Continue reading