Tips for surviving digitization in a small organization
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Tips For Surviving Digitization In a Small Organization. Notes From The Trenches Renée DesRoberts The First Time Digitizer NEA Spring Meeting • March 28-29, 2008 Salve Regina University • Newport, Rhode Island. To start, a little about us & our program….

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Tips For Surviving Digitization In a Small Organization

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Tips For Surviving Digitization In a Small Organization

Notes From The Trenches

Renée DesRoberts

The First Time Digitizer

NEA Spring Meeting • March 28-29, 2008

Salve Regina University • Newport, Rhode Island

To start, a little about us & our program…

  • A free, public library founded in 1863

  • Photograph collections dating from about 1870 to present

  • Scanning in concert with Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network since 2006

  • Currently about 1,500 scanned images (99 of which loaded into MMN)

  • No dedicated staff (we scan as need/ability arises)

What can a small shop gain by digitizing & posting images online?

  • You can reach a broader audience.

  • You can improve & enhance access to your holdings.

    • Especially true for rural or “isolated” institutions.

  • You can connect to other organizations (nationally & internationally) with similar or complimentary collections.

Things to think about when planning your project

  • Project size

  • Project staff

  • Project duration

  • Budget

  • Presentation

  • Technical requirements

  • Creation of Procedures

Tip: Project size -It is okay to start small!!!!

  • A small pilot project will help you determine your abilities & needs.

  • You do not have to purchase expensive software & equipment to start out.

    • We use: Adobe Photoshop Elements (±$100.00); Epson Perfection 4180 Scanner (±$200.00); and an Iomega 60GB Portable Hard-Drive (±$60.00) for back-up storage.

  • Posting a few images on your website or blog is a reasonable start in promoting your collections.

  • Be realistic & don’t take on more than you can handle.

Tip: Procedures -Naming conventions matter!

  • Think about a naming convention that you could use for the whole collection, even if you are just digitizing a few pieces.

  • Each item should have a UNIQUE name.

    • This can be numeric, descriptive, or whatever works for your collections & organization.

  • Written procedures for names make a big difference

    • when you have multiple people doing the work, AND

    • when you have an on-going or long-term project.

Tip: Staffing - Recruiting/managing volunteers

  • Younger volunteers (high school & college age):

    • are technologically savvy and usually require little training.

    • often have community service requirements for school or civic groups.

  • Create a work log to manage multiple workers.

    • For example: our work log has space for volunteers (or staff) to write down the item scanned, the electronic file name, and initials of the person doing the work.

  • Keep written procedures with the work log for easy referral by volunteers (or staff).

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel…

  • If you can join an existing consortium (such as Maine Memory Network), then do so – they will help you get started & supply the technical support you will require. Otherwise…

  • Contact your state archives, state historical society, or local college/university with digitization programs in place for advice.

  • There are many listservs & discussion groups (SAA Visual Materials Section, NEA Discuss, or the new where you can post questions.

  • Pick up a book or guide…(check out SAA’s publications on digitization & digital preservation, as well as the resource list provided by this panel!)

Tips for Surviving Digitization

in a Small Organization.

Renée DesRoberts, MSLIS

McArthur Public Library

270 Main Street

Biddeford, Maine 04005





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