Skip to main content
state library of queensland
Clients accessing State Library collections.
  • Home
  • /

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Preservation team has a wealth of expertise and knowledge about conserving and preserving precious collections. Explore these commonly asked questions and answers — everything from how to save an insect infested book to what is the best file type for preserving digital photos.

Audio visual

Where can I digitise my motion picture film, videotape, or audiotape?
Our Information guides provide helpful information including details of commercial digitisation services. Remember to look for the specific format for the appropriate vendor in the below PDF:


This guide aims to provide general information and advice about digitising your collections, family treasures, and precious memories.

PDF · 196 KB

How can I identify the type of audio visual format that I have?
There are useful guides which can be found online.  These two online guides have helpful visuals: Know your carrier or Preservation self-assessment program.

I am planning to digitise my motion picture film. Should I have it copied to DVD?
Unfortunately, DVD is not a stable format for long term storage of data. You can request a copy on DVD, but it would be better to have higher quality video with lossless compression stored on your computer and have backup copies in two locations.  Digital content should be checked once a year.


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:

Info Guide on caring for books and bound materials

PDF · 212 KB

How can I preserve my family photographs?
Please refer to our info Guide on caring for photographic collections for advice.


Photos are precious memories of events, relatives, and friends. Learn how photograph collections deteriorate and how to preserve your photos.

PDF · 277 KB

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. Please see our digitisation information guide:


This guide aims to provide general information and advice about digitising your collections, family treasures, and precious memories.

PDF · 196 KB

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


Make an appointment with our staff.  We will contact you by email or phone.
Learn how to care for and store your personal items and original materials such as rare books, artwork on paper, family heirlooms, and films or photographs in a personalised session with a conservator.

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 Australian Institute for the Conservation Cultural Materials (AICCM) website. It is recommended that you read the Guidelines for Commissioning Conservation Treatment first.

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 (see PDF below) for further information. To prevent future outbreaks, it is recommended that you adopt an integrated pest management plan for your home and collections.

Guidelines on safe freezing and low oxygen (anoxic) methods

PDF · 180 KB


Does the Preservation team 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.

I have found some old newspapers under the lino in the kitchen, would 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 visit the National Library of Australia's (NLA) website.

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.

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 can be found under "How we manage collections" that could be used as a guide. These include:

Digital Capture Specifications

PDF · 254 KB

Directory Naming Conventions for Digital Objects

PDF · 90 KB

File Naming Conventions for Digital Objects

State Library's conventions for naming files for digital objects.

PDF · 104 KB

Info guide - Digital content

Information guide on digital content.

PDF · 75 KB

Info guide - Digitisation

Information guide on digitisation.

PDF · 196 KB

State Library has developed a Digitisation toolkit that provides information about how to digitise records.  More information is available from the Toolkit created by the representative bodies of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM Peak).  Guidelines regarding digital preservation can be found in State Library's Preservation Policy.


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 uses 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.  


What resolution should I use?
This depends on the intended use of your image. For email or web pages a resolution of 100 pixels per inch (ppi) would be okay, 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” (20 cm 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.

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.

Is digital better than traditional photography?
This often depends on the intended use of the image. Digital photography 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.

If you are looking for more information, you may like to look at the Digital images Info Guide and the Photographs Info Guide:

Digital images info guide

PDF · 128 KB


Photos are precious memories of events, relatives, and friends. Learn how photograph collections deteriorate and how to preserve your photos.

PDF · 277 KB