Ah, paper. It’s been used for centuries. But a lot of the documents created on paper? Most of them didn’t last. Paper is fragile. Paper deteriorates.
The Paper Conservation Department at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is responsible for the preservation of works of art for the Museum. Works of art on paper such as etchings, charcoal, chalk, pen & ink, watercolor, and pastel are all part of the curated pieces, but also manuscripts on parchment, paper, and papyrus. Specifically, works on paper and parchment are some of the most sensitive materials there are. Protocols for preserving paper include limiting the duration of display time, rotating the works, low light levels, travel restrictions and strictly prescribed handling procedures.
The Texas Historical Commission, who administers the National Register of Historic Places for sites and documents inside of the state, suggests that the best approach to historic preservation of paper documents may be all of the above as suggested by the Met, and storage in a completely light-free environment permanently.
So much for viewing the documents. But even if all of the above is bypassed, and someone gets to actually view an important historical paper document, there’s still another problem: some of them are simply hard to read.
Just ask Linda Watson, head of the Isle of Man-based company Transcription Services. Her specialty is a rare one—transcribing historical documents so that a reader can actually, well, read them.
Linda says her company’s slogan is, “We are good at reading the unreadable.”
On any given day she might be transcribing a handwritten letter from a Confederate soldier, or a will, or a brief from an old legal case—or even an original Jane Austen manuscript. Anything that’s nigh impossible to read might make its way to Watson’s company.
It’s not just the poor handwriting of some of the folk’s way back when. It’s also the customary abbreviations, turns of phrase, and styles of lettering themselves that conspire to make old documents difficult to navigate.
Of course, most of the papers reviewed and transcribed are more mundane—typically wills and other legal papers. Some of these legal papers were written in so-called ‘court hand,’ which was used by medieval-era lawyers and clerks. This style of writing has long, narrow strokes with letters closely spaced together. It can be a challenge to determine where one word ends and the other begins.
And can technology help? It seems that even the smartest computers of today are befuddled by many old handwritten works. “Some of the ones I find easier to read, the machine will probably be able to read sooner rather than later,” said Watson. “But… I think I’m safe in my job for a good while yet.”
Paper. It’s been around a long time. But that doesn’t mean it is the right approach, especially for business.
Handwritten documents are best left to history. Today’s world means information delivered faster, more reliably, and accurately. Today’s business needs information now—not later—and wasted search time is the enemy of efficiency.
Yet some businesses are still plagued by the paper pile-up.
But there’s a solution. If you need a Document Management Solution that will give you the important data you need—instantly– 5i Solutions can bring it to you.
You’ll get streamlined business processes, the automation of manual tasks, and access to the data you need instantly—search by what the information is, rather than where it is stored.
And where it is stored is secure: with complete security–protected and safeguarded in the 5i Cloud Vault, with permission levels, encryption, network security, access logs, penetration testing, key management, and more.
Best of all, 5i Solutions can build this document management solution for you that conforms with existing system and software– for less than you might think, with low upfront costs.
5i Solutions. One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage. One singular solution.