FAQs

Top 5 conservation FAQs | Microfilm FAQs | Photographic FAQs

Top 5 conservation FAQs

1. What is the best way to store my precious books?

The key is to provide a safe environment, protecting books from sources of light, heat and moisture. For details on how to do this please refer to our Info Guide on caring for books and bound materials.

2. How can I preserve my family photographs?

Please refer to our Info Guide on caring for photographic collections for advice.

3. Can I safely scan old photographs?

Yes, if you are careful and do not scan the print multiple times or force the photograph flat. Be aware that some historical processes such as cyanotypes are very light sensitive and should not be scanned.

4. How can I find a conservator to fix my treasured object?

State Library of Queensland offers a free bimonthly conservation clinic. Our qualified conservators provide one-on-one consultations to look at your personal treasures and offer preservation and conservation advice. Please phone 3842 9069 for information and bookings.

State Library does not offer a commercial conservation treatment service or endorse specific private conservation practitioners. If you require a conservation treatment to be undertaken, a list of conservators in private practice is available on the Australia Institute for the Conservation Cultural Materials (AICCM) website. It is recommended that you read the Guidelines for Commissioning Conservation Treatment first.

5. My books and documents are infested with insects, how can I kill the insects without causing damage?

Freezing and low oxygen are effective non-chemical ways to kill insect infestations in books and paper documents without exposing yourself or your collections to harmful pesticides.  Please refer to our Guidelines on safe freezing and low oxygen (anoxic) methods for further information. To prevent future outbreaks, it is recommended that you adopt an integrated pest management plan for your home and collections.

Microfilm FAQs

1. Does the Microfilm and Digitising Unit offer a service to microfilm or digitise private items?

No, the unit is an in-house operation microfilming and digitising items from State Library of Queensland collections only. Staff can advise on external services that are available.

2. I have found some old newspapers under the lino in the kitchen, would the State Library be interested in microfilming them?

State Library has a very extensive collection of newspapers; however, we don’t have all editions. For more information please see Queensland's missing newspapers or visit the National Library of Australia's (NLA) website.

3. Where is the best place to store microfilm (and microfiche)?

All microfilm is best stored in a location where the temperature and humidity are not excessive, preferably in a cool, dry and well ventilated area away from sources of light.

4. I am planning to digitise my own personal records, what specifications/standards and file types are preferred for long term preservation?

There are many resources available that detail the specifications required for high resolution digitising of heritage items. State Library has a number of digital standards that could be used as a guide. These include:

  • Digital Standard 1 – Metadata for digital objects and other specified resource types, version 1.4
  • Digital Standard 2 – Digital capture and format, version 2.05
  • Directory and file naming conventions for digital objects, version 1.03
  • Guidelines for the use of metadata in the description of digital images, version 2.1, and

State Library has developed a Digitisation toolkit that provides information about how to digitise records.

National Library of Australia also provides information on Recommended Practices for Digital Preservation.

Photographic FAQs


1. What is the best file type to use when I am saving digital images?

There are many different file types around for photographic images. Two of the most common are TIFF and JPEG. TIFF is the preferred file type as it does not compress or alter the information in an image file. As a result there is no loss of quality when the image is saved. A JPEG file is one which employs a compression technique to allow a large image file to be saved using less disk space. Some image editing software allows you to control the amount of compression used when saving as a JPEG and for photographic reproductions a higher quality setting (least amount of compression) is the best. As a general rule, assuming that disk space is not an issue, TIFF is best for images that you want to print, and JPEG is best for those that you want to send as email, or place in a web page.

2. What resolution should I use?

This depends greatly on the intended use of your image. For email or web pages a resolution of 100 pixels per inch (ppi) is quite sufficient, while 400 to 600 ppi is best for images that are to be printed. Of course, this also depends on how big you intend to print. A common misconception is that a larger print requires a larger ppi resolution when in fact the opposite is true. In other words, a 400 ppi image printed at 8”x10” (20cm x 25 cm) may only need to be 240 ppi when printed at 12”x16” (A3) but may need to be 2000 ppi when printed at the size of a passport photo.

3. What is the difference between ppi and dpi?

While some use ppi and dpi to describe the same thing, the two are different. Ppi stands for pixels per inch and should only be used to describe the resolution of a digital image. Dpi is short for dots per inch and only indicates the resolution used for printing. So an image that has a resolution 400 ppi can be printed at 150 dpi or 2880 dpi, the two being independent of each other.

4. Is digital better than traditional photography?

This often depends on the intended use of the image. Digital photography and image manipulation has contributed greatly to photography. In some cases it allows a faster turnaround of work, and enables photographers to do restoration work on old photographs without having to alter the original image. It is of course, a necessity for online images. However, for true archival images, traditional black and white photographs and negatives still offer the best medium. Black and white photography has been practised for over 100 years, and so we know with certainty that these images will last indefinitely under the right conditions. Digital prints (those printed on ink jet printers) may only last a year or two for a basic printer, or for only a few years on professional models. There is also the issue of technology constantly changing, so what might be a standard today, may be obsolete in a short period of time.

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