Highlighting the National Postal Museum’s mass-digitization Sidney N. Shure project.
The National Postal Museum has the second largest collection in all of the Smithsonian.
It's almost 6,000,000 objects and a majority of it consists of stamps.
If we can digitize the collection in high-resolution images and put it online
we can take the museum to you and you can start to see the collections and the stories.
The public would be interested to see the collections we have online
because it would help with their research and their educational goals but
also because some of these objects are really beautiful and they haven't been seen before.
There are millions of collectors around the world. We have right now hitting into
our website people from over 150 countries and they want to see rare objects and that's what we have here.
The Sidney N. Shure is a unique collection of Israeli and Palestinian stamps and covers.
Sidney Shure was interested in Israeli and Palestinian
relations during the post World War II era and he collected a lot of contemporary material
from that period and his stamps and covers really tell a history of what was going on in that region.
The Shure collection is a very, very large collection. It's a very, very important collection.
And the question always for us was, "How would you actually take something so big
and digitize it and show it to the world?"
And guess what? We have now succeeded in doing that with this rapid capture project.
Rapid capture is the process of digitizing objects in our collection at a mass scale.
We bring objects out of the self, digitize them, put them into all of our systems through automated processes
and they're all pushed out to our public websites in a matter of a 24 hour period.
To prepare a collection like the Sidney N. Shure collection for imaging
we take the albums out of storage, catalog them, wheel them upstairs,
remove the album pages from the binder, and set up the bar codes for each of those pages.
The camera systems we use for digitization are a significant change in the technology that's incorporated
but that means that the captured time is on the order of a fraction of a second.
For the imaging process, we have a carefully
worked-out recipe that maintains the quality that we're looking for.
We do several checks at least on a daily basis if not an individual object basis,
and that allows us to maintain the quality of those across large number of images that were doing.
So when the images are ready they get uploaded to the Smithsonian's digital
asset management system where it talks to our database and the images are
shared across those two systems and from there they go out to the Search Center.
We were able to image 3,500 album pages representing over 22,000 objects in just a week's time.
The public, when they go on the website, has an opportunity to see high-resolution images,
and also see the stories of each of the objects.
If you had to pick a collection that you want to image
and put online for the world to see, you come running to us.
Although we have a massive collection, and it's huge, you can actually move it through the technology portion of the imaging process fairly easily.
Yea, I'd like to someday see all of our 6,000,000 objects online.
By embarking on such a large digitization project, the Smithsonian is able
to not only preserve the history that we have within our walls, but we can promote it
to the public, make it available, and really look to the future about what sort of
research can continue at this wonderful institution.