RIT building imaging systems to help libraries and museums uncover lost texts
Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology are developing affordable imaging systems to help libraries and museums preserve and expand access to their historical collections. The project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, aims to create a low-cost spectral imaging system and software that can be used to recover obscured and illegible text on historical documents.
Spectral imaging—the process of collecting images of objects in many wavelengths of light—can be an effective way of revealing faded text that is undetectable to the human eye on documents that are hundreds of years old. However, existing systems are expensive and require expertise in image processing, which makes them unaffordable and impractical for most special collections. David Messinger, director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and principal investigator of the grant, said his team is excited to develop a practical solution that puts imaging capability in the hands of curators, archivists and librarians so they can get more out of their collections.