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by Thomas Smith
Project Gado is an initiative which aims to create an open-source archival scanning robot which small archives can purchase for $500 and use to autonomously scan their photographic collections. This talk presents the Gado 2, a prototype scanning robot built around Python and Arduino, and shares lessons learned from using Python as the primary language in a large-scale archival scanning project.
The archives of the Afro American Newspaper in Baltimore MD contain over 1.5 million historical photos spanning 115 years of the city’s African American history. One of the largest Black history collections in the world, the Afro’s archives include thousands of photos which have never been seen by the public.
Why? Of the paper’s 1.5 million photos, only around 10,000 exist in a digital form; the Afro, like many small archives, simply does not have the human resources to manually digitize its collections. As a result, photos with incredible value for scholars, educators and community members alike are available only to the select few with the access, specialized skills, and time to travel to the physical archive and locate them.
Project Gado was founded in 2010 to address these challenges. The project seeks to create an open source archival scanning robot which small organizations like the Afro can use to autonomously digitize their photographic holdings. The Gado 1, a proof-of-concept machine built using Python and Arduino, has successfully scanned over 1,000 photos to date.
7th–15th March 2012