Plans to digitise the Alpine Journal arose towards the end of 2008, through conversations at the Club between Editor Steve Goodwin, Area Notes Editor Paul Knott and John Town. The project has been implemented by John Town, Secretary of the Club 2011-2014 and the late Ned Kelly, with the guidance and encouragement of Steve Goodwin and the support of the Alpine Club and AC Presidents Tut Braithwaite, Mick Fowler and Lindsay Griffin.free150 years
Ned Kelly on the Int. Everest Expedition, 1971
During the autumn of 2010 the Club collaborated with the Universities of Cambridge and Zurich in making a bid to the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to fund the digitization of earlier volumes of the Journal. Sadly this was unsuccessful and a lower key approach was taken. John's availability was limited by his appointment as Honorary Secretary of the Club but in early 2011 AC member Ned Kelly volunteered to assist and the load increasingly passed into his capable hands. By September 2011, digitization of the 1960s had been completed and the 1950s embarked upon. By February 2013, the 1930s, 1940s had been completed. Ned then became seriously ill and passed away in early 2014. His prize-winning work as a cameraman and producer with the BBC and others survives him and is described here.
If John had not been to the Kun Lun in 2014, or spent so much time in Scotland, then the creation of the new contents pages and the new index might have before completed earlier than the eventual date of November 2015. The new site makes available the past 85 years of the Journal, comprising over 3,600 articles, taking the reader back to the Golden Age of Himalayan climbing and the hopes and fears of generations of climbers who can no longer speak for themselves.
Stage Three, putting the remaining volumes on-line, is currently being planned.
It was decided to digitise in the form of high quality pdfs which contained the text in digital form while retaining the character of the original pages. Scans were made at 300 dpi, since the use of a higher resolution would have resulted in unacceptably slow user download speeds and scanning workflow. The 150 years of the AJ would contain about 50,000 pages and, since we did not have access to Google's army of page turners but did posess a bookshelf of duplicate copies, it seemed sensible to unbind these into their component sheets and scan them automatically using sheetfeeders.
AJ sheets were scanned into Photoshop using a second-hand EpsonA3 scanner with sheetfeeder. A series of adjustments were made to the resulting tiffs and these were then split into their component pages, collated and assembled into facsimile pdfs, corresponding to articles or sections of the journal, using Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional. The text of the article was translated into computer-readable form using Acrobat Professional's OCR facility.
The site was built using Dreamweaver CS3, Photoshop CS3 and the Zend Studio editor, with the assistance of Apple iWeb (now discontinued) in the initial stages. ---Contents ----Area Analysis ----Full Text Search
During Stage One most of the processing was carried out using two ageing dual-core Apple Power Mac G5s running OS X 10.4. Indexing and implementation of the full text search facility was carried out using an Acer Aspire X3810 running Windows 7. During Stage Two, a second hand Epson A4 scanner/sheetfeeder took most of the scanning load, driven by Ned's iMac, with the paper quality of the older editions sometimes pushing the sheetfeeder to its limits, particularly in the case of the wartime issues. A new Mac Pro took over the website and data processing from the G5s during 2011 and the appearance of a Mac version of the Zoom Indexer allowed us to dispense with the Windows machine.