Digitization and Documentation

When embarking upon a digitization project this week’s reading really brought home the notion that the devil is truly in the details.  Even for the smallest of digitization projects the set of interrelated and interacting decisions and considerations can be overwhelming. From file type to digitation technique and quality considerations, to metadata standard and scheme, the decisions each carry a level of compromise and impact to each other decision.  I think an important aspect of project management to keep in mind is the idea of documentation…not just metadata for the objects that are being collected and added to a digital project, but documentation about the project itself. 

 With the many decisions that must be made, careful documentation should be incorporated to show how those decisions were made, what the thinking was that drove the ultimate outcomes in terms of file choices, if lossy formats are used or not, if archival quality files are available for download, how archived files are stored, what metadata are collected, etc.  Digitization projects should be viewed as long-term and ongoing projects, even if the actual content creation is of a short-term nature, because as long as the material and site are online and accessible, the project is still ongoing, and may require maintenance, or may require revamping on a large scale to meet changing patron needs and/or institutional goals, and changes in staff can mean that the original decision makers are no longer present to help provide context to the new managers of why decisions were made and what the intended goals of these decisions were.

This realization is also founded in a recent experience I’ve had at my job where I’ve come across a rather large collection of digitized images from an even larger collection of physical photos.  Unfortunately, there is zero documentation on the scanning process, there seems to be no metadata, and even the numbering system for each digital file does not seem to correspond to the print copy.  My hope is to get these materials sorted and moved to an online collection, which we believe was the original intent of the digitization, but without documentation we are essentially starting almost from square one.

PS – My apologies for the late post! there seems to be some bad colds going around and i too succumbed.

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2 responses to “Digitization and Documentation

  1. Ah, you have a challenge on your hands with the pre-scanned photos. I know that some image editing software can extract *some* metadata but it probably won’t be worth your time to work with them. Unfortunately, it will probably be easier, faster, and cheaper to rescan the items and document them properly.

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