Clients accessing State Library collections.
The Preservation Services team have 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.
This guide aims to provide general information and advice for digitising your collections, family treasures and precious memories.
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.
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:
How can I find a conservator to fix my treasured object?
State Library of Queensland offers free conservation clinics several times a year. 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 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.
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.
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:
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). National Library of Australia also provides information on Recommended Practices for Digital Preservation.
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: