National Archives of Norway Hits 13m Record Mark

National Archives of Norway Hits 13m Record Mark

Norway, EU – September 15, 2010

Kodak says that the National Archives of Norway has scanned around 13 million microfilm images as part of an innovative project to digitise a considerable part of its holdings and make all information contained on microfilm readily available to the public via the Internet.

Three NextScan Eclipse 300 Rollfilm production level scanners, exclusively distributed and supported by Kodak in EMEA[1], are being used to digitise microfilm information stored in the archive, with one Kodak i1860 high volume scanner purchased to scan paper records. The equipment was supplied by long standing local Kodak reseller, Kibi Norge AS.

In total, it is expected that around 15 million microfilm images will be scanned with the project expected to be completed soon. A huge and varied range of records will be made available online including probate and court records, parish church registers which list births, baptisms, still births, death and burial records, along with marriage registers, immigration and vaccination information.

Able to scan up to 300 microfilm images per minute, the Eclipse rollfilm scanners were purchased following detailed evaluation of the various high speed microfilm scanners in the market and references provided by the United States Library of Congress in Washington and the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints[2] in Utah who also use Eclipse scanners. The church has over 2 million rolls of microfilm stored in its Granite Mountain records vault. The National Archives of Norway was the first organisation in Scandinavia to deploy Eclipse technology.

With 250,000 linear metres of documents in its possession, the National Archives of Norway holds information dating back to the Middle Ages right up to the present day. Based in Oslo, it has eight branches throughout the country, and employs 250 staff.

Svein Warberg, the National Archives of Norway’s digitisation projects advisor, explains, “We wanted to make the most popular records, the parish church registers, available online first so researchers, genealogists and members of the public could access them for free. That’s where we started and the project has evolved from there.”

The service has proved hugely popular and each day hundreds of thousands of documents are downloaded by around 50,000 unique users.

Initially 12,000 parish church registers dating back over 300 years from 1920 to the mid 1600s were converted. Raw 200 dpi[3] tiff files are created which are then converted into PNG[4] files which compress the file size by 50%, and from there reformatted into JPEG images. This allows images to be sharpened, indexed and then uploaded to bespoke written software used to display pages online which users can then navigate like they would do a traditional book.

The National Archives of Norway is digitising on average around 15 rolls of microfilm per Eclipse scanner every day each which contain around 1,000 images – in other words 45,000 images in total daily from the three machines in use. The digitisation team has been impressed by the equipment’s image quality, speed and features like its wide range of reduction ratios [7x to 72x] and the fact that automatic focussing is offered.

Warberg says, “After the church books, we then followed up with other popular records such as census, probate, court and property records which will all be converted in the next couple of years.”

To support his process given a lot of these documents are A4 paper-based, the archive purchased a Kodak i1860 production scanner last year. Able to scan over 100 pages per minute at 300 dpi colour output, the i1860 is being used to scan around 10,000 images per day.

Images from both the Eclipse and i1860 scanners are then stored on a storage area network (SAN) which has a capacity of 150TB.

Kodak Service and Support in Norway has played an active role on the project providing technical assistance to the in-house scanning team. Warberg says, “The working relationship has been good and we’ve had a very positive experience working in tandem with Kodak engineers.”

Moving forward, the National Archives of Norway is considering offering third party organisations and government departments microfilm conversion services to further utilise the investment made in its digitisation equipment.

Richard Broden, Kodak’s EMEA products marketing manager, says, “Norway is probably the first country to make historical church records available online using a web-based, simple-to- use interface. It is a testament to the scanning equipment’s speed and image quality features that they have been able to process so much so quickly.”


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