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Is Multipage Tiff an acceptable Preservation format?

+2 votes
Normally our AIPs for scanned documents include individual page images in TIFF plus a PDF access version that packages them all together.  Recently I came across an older collection that had only multipage tiffs for the original scans plus an access PDF.

Multipage tiffs are part of the TIFF standard, but there is very little support for them and they are difficult to work with.  I am unsure if it is preferable to keep the multipage tiffs or to extract each page to a single page tiff.  I can effeciently extract the single pages using Irfan View.

Does any one have experience or thoughts about multipage tiffs in preservation context?

thank you.
asked Oct 10, 2014 by evanwill (140 points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
One organisation's ideal format will be another organization's horror story.

In other words, what is an acceptable "preservation format" will differ by institution. If your institution is willing to commit to maintaining interaction software for multi-page TIFFs and/or ensuring you can move content in multi-page TIFFs to files with a newer format as needed in the future, then it could well be an appropriate and acceptable preservation format for you.

I would recommend considering those two factors (ability to support interaction tools in the future, and ability to effectively migrate content to new files with a different format as needed), and also reccomend considering what your options are for immediately normalizing the content into new files. An option that comes to mind is moving all the content in the TIFFs to multi-page PDF files that can be interacted with using Acrobat Reader.  However that may cause a loss of content (depending on how it is done) and therefore may not be an appropriate approach for you. Furthermore you may not wish to support content in PDF formats and not want to commit to supporting a PDF interaction tool.
answered Nov 5, 2014 by euanc (3,200 points)
+1 vote

Slightly offtopic, but I noticed you mention Irfanview as a possible tool to extract individual pages. I would be very careful using that specific software, as Irfanview may not support all features in your source TIFF. For example, I know that it doesn't support ICC profiles, and certain types of embedded metadata. So if you use Irfanview as a migration tool you will lose those features (only if they are present in the source image of course). Something like ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick may give you better results. Anyway, the best way to check this is to use Exiftool (link: http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/) on the source and destination images and look for any changes between the two.



answered Oct 23, 2014 by johanvanderknijff (1,460 points)
Thank you for the comment, I will keep it in mind if I encounter more multipage TIFFs.  In this case the multipage TIFF were created by a high speed document scanner, which did not add any embedded metadata.  Irfanview does have support for icc profiles now (although I haven't tested to see what happens when splitting a multipage TIFF that did have metadata), and supports easy batch scripting.  I would probably use ImageMagick on my own machine, but its not in the build I am working on.
+1 vote
I recently came across a collection with multipage tiff images. It almost went forward without anyone realizing it had multiple pages. Opening in common software like Photoshop will not inform the user there are additional pages and may go un-noticed. Our stratagy is to break them out into individual images so those using the collection will have access to the entire collection.

Breaking into individual images can be done with a little scripting using ImageMagick.
answered Dec 22, 2014 by thorsted (560 points)