Digitising in-house or using vendors

State Library of Queensland digitises heritage collection materials both in-house and via vendors. The following information may help you to make decisions if you decide to set up an in-house process or want to use vendors for digitisation/reformatting of your historical collections. A combination of both works as well.

Digitisation of Queensland heritage materials

  • Digitise using best capture practices and standards for long term access/preservation
  • Do you have an inventory and a plan for digitisation?
  • What is your budget?
  • Have you checked to see if your material is digitised elsewhere?
  • Do you have copyright permission to digitise/place online?
  • Have you set up file naming for your material?
  • Do you have a way to make content accessible?
  • Do you have a way to store/preserve digital files with backup?

Digitisation in-house

This means equipment purchases. Basic equipment outlined below will allow you to digitise books, registers, volumes, documents, maps, plans, files, illustrations, photographs, negatives and transparencies:

The following are considerations of the options between carrying out digitisation in-house or when using a vendor

Do not outsource collections:

  • which are fragile or politically/security sensitive
  • where specialised handling is required for preservation of the material
  • of large monetary value or of exceptional significance
  • which are one-offs or minor quantities
  • which are not standard and require major special instructions
  • that require major conservation oversight and controls
  • which are complex, have minimal inventory or are not well arranged and require major reorganisation
  • where reality checking of all real costs including contract management, more than reasonable consultation with vendor, administration, and transportation are likely to result in a questionable cost benefit

Collections which would be outsourced and provide a cost benefit

  • where the items are physically and chemically stable and the risk of damage from digitisation is low
  • where a vendor has purchased and maintains specialist and expensive equipment not available internally
  • where the level of expertise in digitisation of a format is not available in-house
  • where the vendor presents a more cost effective option and capacity to provide large quantities of digitisation within a prescribed period
  • where the digitisation of the collection requires minimal special instructions and thereby ease of workflow
  • where the items require minimal conservation oversight and if necessary the vendor is open to manual handling training of documentary heritage collections by State Library conservators
  • where an inventory using catalogue/accession records is available to minimise the cost of recording of items sent to vendors

Using external vendors

If you wish to pursue using a digitisation service provider, you will need to provide the vendor with a list of specifications. This list should include:

  • File naming
  • Request masters, derivatives and checksum at point of capture
  • Ask for a sample, especially with large or complex jobs
  • Request file transfer upload or delivery process that works for your organisation
  • Quality control / review of work completed to ensure specs have been met
  • Spell out specific delivery dates for digitised files

Vendors for most heritage collection formats

You may want to consult with the following. This is not an exhaustive list but rather services that are available to the community. If you have other items to digitise (letters, post cards, photographs, etc.), you may wish to consult with local vendors.

List of vendors for audio, video and film digitisation

  • Crystal Mastering
    77 Newman Street, Thornbury, Victoria 3071
    Telephone: (03) 9484 8814
    Website: crystalmastering.com.au
    Type of transfer offered: digitisation of audiotapes and videotapes
  • DAMsmart
    32 Essington Street, Mitchell, ACT 2911
    PO Box 81, Mitchell, ACT 2911
    Telephone: (02) 6242 6456
    Fax: (02) 6255 4236
    Email: joe@damsmart.com.au
    Website: www.damsmart.com.au
    Type of transfer offered: digitisation of audio tapes, videotapes and 16mm and 35mm films
  • DVD Infinity
    PO Box 86, North Sydney, NSW 2059
    Telephone: (02) 9906 6383
    Email: info@dvdinfinity.com.au
    Website: www.dvdinfinity.com.au
    Type of transfer offered: transfer of Super 8, Standard 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm, video (broadcast, professional and domestic formats), photos, 35mm slides and negatives. Digital via frame-by-frame film scanning system.
  • FATS Digital
    318 Montague Road, West End, QLD 4101
    Telephone: (07) 3846 4582
    Email: mfatsqld@fats.com.au
    Website: www.fats.com.au
    Type of transfer offered: video and audio transfer duplication and digitisation. Broadcast transfer facility that uses a Rank-Cintel ‘flying-spot’ (continuous motion) scanner. Transfer of Standard 8mm, Super 8, 16mm and 35mm.
  • Nano Lab
    36 Grant St, Daylesford, VIC 3460
    Telephone: 0400 748 864
    Email: richard@nanolab.com.au
    Website: www.nanolab.com.au
    Type of transfer offered: telecine service to transfer processed Super 8 or Standard 8 films to digital via frame-by-frame film scanning system. Output to digital computer file only – not to tape. Uncompressed digital files also offered.

Before digitising in-house or with a vendor

  • Use/provide digitisation standards
  • Decide what you want the end product to look like and how you will deliver online
  • For most digitisation projects, you will need to have consistent description of the material
  • You will need to be able to provide technical information for in-house services and for vendor contracts.  This includes metadata that will need to be embedded in the files.
  • Decide on file naming protocols. Be consistent in your file naming strategy
  • Decide on long-term storage/preservation
  • Set up a spec sheet/job sheet with your staff or vendor that outlines expected outcomes.  This should include numbers, deadlines, delivery methods
  • Check with staff throughout your organisation about expectations. Many people will need/use digitised materials
  • Provide training on scanners, digital cameras, computer software, file storage and how to handle an archive

When you are ready to digitise in-house or with a vendor

  • Ask staff/vendor for a sample
  • Know how you are going to make your digitised materials accessible online
  • Have all staff involved check samples for compatibility with expected outcomes
  • Ensure that your staff/vendor is able to deliver digital files that meet expectations on time – note specific deadlines
  • Determine method of file delivery both to and from – will you receive files on a portable hard drive or with file uploads to a designated area on your server
  • Determine points of quality control both for in-house and with vendor

Upon receipt from staff/vendor

  • Ask vendor to hold copies during your quality control period - just in case!
  • Do quality control upon receipt. Request corrections as needed.
  • Store your masters and derivatives in at least two separate locations. Consider cloud storage as a backup.
  • Provide pre-determined level of access/method of access to stakeholders
  • Use excerpts of content to tell your story, blog, newsletters, presentations
  • Share with SLQ and others in distributed collection via the Queensland memory enewSletter – contact qldmemory@slq.qld.gov.au
  • Provide online access with derivatives - jpgs, mp3 or mp4 files
  • Have a preservation method for digital files, with backup. Review OAIS

How to store digital files upon receipt

Upon receipt of digital files from a vendor or in house, you will need to have a way to store files. Best practice is to have a server and a backed up server, both secure. Also have a preservation policy that ensures your files are accessible into the future.

If you cannot afford or do not have a server, you may backup your digital files on a portable hard drive, backed up in the cloud or in a second location,

Best practices recommend several backups in different locations. Just remember, as technology progresses, some of these options may not be accessible in the future. Ensure that your digital files are on a maintenance schedule for checking files and updating file formats as needed in more than one location.

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