From the Road to Obsolescence: Recovering and Reformatting Photo Film Negatives and Slides in Archives

VILLANUEVA, Cristina B. (2019) From the Road to Obsolescence: Recovering and Reformatting Photo Film Negatives and Slides in Archives. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 179 - Audiovisual and Multimedia.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


From the Road to Obsolescence: Recovering and Reformatting Photo Film Negatives and Slides in Archives

The Cordillera/Northern Luzon Historical Archives, a section of the University of the Philippines Baguio Library, was established in 2007. It is located in the Cordillera Region. The Region, located north of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is home to the second largest group of indigenous peoples of the Philippines. A decade after its establishment, the Archives has become a repository of papers of various individuals who made enduring contributions to the historical as well as cultural development of the Cordillera. Along with the personal papers are audiovisual materials such as Sony Beta and VHS cassettes, sound recordings in various formats and mediums and photo film negatives and slides that these individuals have collected during their lifetime. What is interesting and of primary consideration are the photo film negatives and slides which my paper will focus on. Photo negatives and slides have, over the years, fast become a dying medium. The proliferation and popularity of digital cameras have slowly and unprecedentedly made these media a thing of the past. When the Archives started receiving these materials in 2007, I thought that there is nothing we can do about these materials thinking that their contents will forever be kept hidden. Thanks to new technology, these negatives are given a new lease on life which otherwise would have been rendered useless. In 2016, the Archives purchased a film scanner, thus we were able to get a look at what these images are; determine their relevance to the Cordillera Region’s history and culture; be able to preserve their content; provide access and most of all be able to disseminate their content through the Library’s OPAC. The digitization efforts of the Archives have slowly revealed the interesting and unique contents of the negatives and slides. Some of these images have never before been seen. Scanning the negatives revealed the Region’s past, hidden and well preserved in each of the frames. Images such as anthropomorphic woodcarvings, healing rituals and ceremonies, head hunting ceremonies, American colonial administrators of the Cordillera Region, material culture of the indigenous peoples of the Region, and historical milestones are some of the images captured and brought to light by new technology. Further, the paper will describe the Archives’ preservation and digitization process. Although, the digitization project is not an elaborate process since I am the only staff working at the Archives, nonetheless, it fulfills the all too crucial aim of preservation, access and dissemination keeping in mind the aphorism, preservation without access is useless.

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