NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

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John P. Moore
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by John P. Moore » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:30 am

GaryD and a few others - No, the management of NARA responsible for the duplication process are not stupid. I happen to know the manager of the duplication section and he came to NARA from the private sector where he persuaded NARA to begin providing microfilm content on DVD media. NARA uses high speed scanners to first scan each master roll of microfilm and copy it to a DVD. The demand for DVD media is high and I believe that NARA has between 6-12 of the high speed microfilm scanners. The cost of those scanners is very high and NARA must recover the cost of that capital investment. Instead of complaining about the seemingly high cost of microfilm and DVDs from NARA, be thankful that a visionary man came to NARA and implemented a process that makes the media more accessable to a larger section of the research community.

Also, if you think that the price of a NARA DVD is high at USD 65, compare it to the price that you would expect to pay for a book of the 1,000+ pages of documents that are contained on a DVD from NARA. Those DVDs are a true bargain! I say this as someone who has purchased over 1,000 rolls of microfilm and over 50 DVDs from NARA over the years.

John

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by John P. Moore » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:20 pm

Here are some important facts that a manager at NARA provided today:

1. NARA has an inventory of 75,000 rolls of microfilm and 250,000 microfiche.

2. The cost of a high-speed microfilm scanner is USD 69,060 and that of a microfiche scanner is USD 67,600. NARA has multiple machines of each type and I imagine the capital expense is amortized over 5 years like other US government IT equipment.

The section of NARA that makes these publications available to the public is supported by a trust fund that is replenished through document sales. Some microfilm is very old and has deteriorated. Sometimes it takes a reproduction specialist as long as four hours to create a DVD from such microfilm after making all possible adjustments of individual frames. DVDs are produced at various resolutions to meet the requirements of individual clients. Hopefully, this information gives interested persons a better appreciation of the duplication section at NARA and why it is impractical for them to convert their inventory of microfilm and microfiche to DVD. It's clear to me that the current price of USD 65 for a DVD or roll of microfilm is fully justified.

John

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:32 pm

John P. Moore wrote:Here are some important facts that a manager at NARA provided today:

1. NARA has an inventory of 75,000 rolls of microfilm and 250,000 microfiche.

2. The cost of a high-speed microfilm scanner is USD 69,060 and that of a microfiche scanner is USD 67,600. NARA has multiple machines of each type and I imagine the capital expense is amortized over 5 years like other US government IT equipment.

The section of NARA that makes these publications available to the public is supported by a trust fund that is replenished through document sales. Some microfilm is very old and has deteriorated. Sometimes it takes a reproduction specialist as long as four hours to create a DVD from such microfilm after making all possible adjustments of individual frames. DVDs are produced at various resolutions to meet the requirements of individual clients. Hopefully, this information gives interested persons a better appreciation of the duplication section at NARA and why it is impractical for them to convert their inventory of microfilm and microfiche to DVD. It's clear to me that the current price of USD 65 for a DVD or roll of microfilm is fully justified.

John
John,

I admire your loyalty, but this makes absolutely no sense. Make one high resolution digital copy of a roll and you'll never have to touch the delicate thing again.

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by richard hedrick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:50 pm

John,

If I gave the impression that I did not think NARA was doing a good job with the DVDs I sincerely apologize as that was not my intent. I have been extremely pleased with the DVDs and the service I have received form them, the supervisor of the duplication department has gone to extremes to help me with issues regarding the DVDs. I could not have hoped for better service. I did find it puzzling that they did not copy from other DVDs but also accepted the fact that there are thing that I neither understand nor know about regarding their process.

I just wanted to be clear that I do support NARA and am grateful for their efforts to provide DVD copies of the microfilm.

Richard

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by MadDog » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:58 pm

GaryD wrote:What we need to do is establish a system to share the DVDs that we buy. This material isn't copyrighted so it should be legal. I think it's ridiculous that NARA charges the same price for DVDs as it does for microfilm.
Gary, I completely agree. The DVD make it easy to transfer the information.

Richard Hedrick has been more than generous in helping me get my start in archival research, and in return I have given him all the files I have bought or aquired. Sturmpanzer.net is a wonderful site containing a huge amount of information that Richard has bought and edited over the years.
Due to the influence of Richard's enlightened policies, I am happy to trade or donate my files so far (some of which I have heavily organized and photoshopped). If anyone is interested in LXXXVIII corps in 1944, email or PM me.

Having said all that, it is unfortunate that the NARA pricing makes it not cost-worthy to get a number of microfilms with low frame counts, such as the divisional histories or some of the corps and armies. In this case, it appears that BAMA is much more cost effective - but sends the data out in microfilm.

Mad Dog

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by MadDog » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:01 pm

I think that simply a database of who is willing to share and what do they have would be a good start.

YES !

It doesnt have to cost a ton of money. Simply note on feldgrau or sturmpanzer (or wherever) who has what files. Contact the owner and trade using an FTP server.

Mad Dog

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by John P. Moore » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:22 pm

Sorry Gary, but you don't appear to show much business sense here. Just who did you think was going to pay the cost of converting 325,000 rolls of microfilm and microfiche to high resolution DVDs? Do the math for the labor, equipment and material cost. Do you expect the US taxpayers to support this cost, especially considering that NARA's clientele is worldwide? No, it's completely appropriate that the "cost causer" pay for the cost of duplication and support the activity of NARA, otherwise some politician might just decide to shut down the service and people will have to travel to Maryland to view microfilm. I have travelled to archives throughout Europe and the USA and I sincerely appreciate the convenience of being able to purchase a grouping of documents from NARA that I can study at my leisure.

John

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 5:09 pm

John,

You must have mistaken me for someone else. If you reread my posts you'll see that I never suggested that they convert all of the rolls at once, nor did I call anyone stupid. However, now that you've described the laborious process they go through to copy delicate film, if they persist in handling film each and every time they make a copy, then a similar adjective comes to mind. I'm quite happy that a visionary person has brought NARA into the late 20th century; now if they could just get to the 21st...

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by John P. Moore » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:08 pm

Today my friend at NARA did clarify one aspect of their duplication process that should be of interest to some. After completing the high speed scan of the microfilm in preparation for the creation of a DVD the digitized file is saved at 300 DPI resolution to a server. Should there be a future requirement for the same DVD the digitized file is used rather than going through the same process again of a high speed scan from microfilm. However, the same DVD has only been ordered once during the past year.

John

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by V. Andries » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:05 am

Hi all,

Today I had an unpleasant surprise. A dvd with a microfilm reproduction arrived from NARA. However, the dvd was empty. It had the label, but no content at all. Something obviously must have gone wrong.

Any of you had this happen before? Did NARA solve it easily?

Considering the price, it's really annoying.

Thanks in advance,

Andries

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by richard hedrick » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:27 pm

Hi Andries,

I have had several DVD's with issues. Early on it occured more, less of late. Contact them and let them know, their pretty good about sending a new one.

Richard

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by V. Andries » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:38 pm

Thank you, Richard. Let's hope it works out.

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Re: If the cost of DVDs is fair - some perspective

Post by Sam Wren » Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:22 pm

As John has noted the cost of the equipment and labor does not make it feasible to to sell the DVDs at an a cheap price at this point in time.

But to put things into some perspective, I was given a quote by the UK National Archives two years ago on the price of copying the contents of May - December 1944 of one War Diary (approximately 800 pages). The estimated cost (for a content that falls well short of the number of jpegs included in the average NARA DVD, mind you) was over £1000.00. It was literally cheaper for me to fly to London, stay one week and photograph dozens of War Diaries myself. I have had no experience with other Archives other than the Public Archives of Canada, which also does seem to be fairly cost-effective for the services I have requested, but based on the experiences I have had, the services provided by NARA are well within reason and relatively cheap. Perhaps the UK National Archives costs are anomalous and those of the BA and other European archives are much more realistic. I have no way of knowing.

While I am on the subject, I would like to thank Richard Hedrick for giving me a heads up on the DVD option soon after they began offering this form of media and for educating me on the best way to order them. I would also like to thank him for all of the effort he has made on making such a large amount of info available on his website.
"no hay vida espiritual en este infierno." LFC

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by MadDog » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:20 pm

What can you tell us about the Canadian archives ?

Mad Dog

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Sam Wren » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:27 pm

My only direct dealing with PAC (which I think is called Libraries and Archives of Canada now) was ordering some reprints of two photos (one each on two different occasions). I requested the reprints online and they were received fairly quickly - within a few weeks. The cost was a bit high in my opinion but they were large reprints (10 x 8 inches) and came out to about $30 (US) each at the time. Smaller reprints are much more economical, obviously.

Others have mentioned to me that they have received excellent service from the staff at the archives including one person who mentioned that they only needed a few pages of something copied and it was done for him for free (if I remember correctly, he was in the UK so it was even mailed to him free of charge).

I hope to visit in person sometime within the next few years but recently took a cut in pay. And with so many more NARA rolls needed...
"no hay vida espiritual en este infierno." LFC

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