The process of digitizing is one that takes a document and creates a high-quality digital image that preserves the document in a digital copy. Rare, unique, and fragile materials provide challenges in scanning and preserving digital copies, so hiring a highly trained and experienced company to provide your digitizing microfilm service is extremely important.
The Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) was formed in 2007. This organization provides recommendations and guidelines for proper procedures when digitizing various types of materials. These guidelines tell you the specifications that must be followed for proper preservation-quality digital renderings of each type of material. The idea is if these guidelines are followed, it will create a uniform standard for digitizing material, allowing all material to be preserved at an appropriate quality and removing any issues with subpar digital rendering.
For example, one FADGI guideline deals with 35mm film. The guidelines recommend scanning or digitizing images to at least 46000 x 3000 pixels. What does this mean in regards to reproducing a print from the digital copy? At this quality, you will be able to print an image that is 11 x 17 inches without any distortion of the image.
While participation with the FADGI guidelines is voluntary, the initiative began in Congress as a strategy to both archive and preserve digital content. The main focus is on texts, maps, print and negative photographs, video, sound, and motion picture films.
Type of Digital Media
When you make the decision to digitize your collection, what will you receive? The materials should be able to be uploaded into any Digital Asset Management system (DAM) that you wish to use, and often the material can be processed with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) that will allow you to search the scanned text. Simple digital files or full-descriptive cataloging are both options when choosing to digitize your collection, depending on your needs.
Scanning and Storage
As you consider digitally preserving large, rare, or possibly fragile collections, you need to hire a company with a process that provides certain securities to keep your original material safe. You also want to ensure that the end product will be of the highest quality. Complying with FADGI guidelines is one huge part of ensuring high quality digital copies. Additional safeguards should be in place including quality checks and rechecks to ensure accuracy, legibility, and quality. Additional checks should include the processing of information, how files are organized, the file format and naming process, and how the media is delivered.
Storage of the original materials needs to include special safeguards to protect the documents. A quality digitization company will guarantee your rare or fragile collection is kept in a controlled environment with appropriate temperature and humidity levels to maintain the collection’s integrity. Likewise, the security of your materials while in the possession of the company needs to be excellent with inventory control systems in place. Redundant systems that ensure proper handling and processing of the inventory are helpful. Ideally, you should be able to track each collection item to see where it is at all times and know who has access to each item until it is safely returned to you. Any company worth hiring will be more than happy to thoroughly explain and demonstrate these safety protocols.
The bottom line is that any company you hire to digitize your collection should provide assurances for every step of the process from the moment you contact them for information through the entire digitizing microfilm process.
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