Monday, November 14, 2016

Planning a digitizing project

Our society has thousands of photographs stuck in boxes and file folders.  We decided we needed to locate them, digitize them, and put them in archival storage.  Such a simple idea.  Such a hard thing to do.

After almost a year of planning, we have finally started our project.  I thought I'd write up some of what we encountered -- perhaps we can cut some of the work for other societies?

The issues we had to address:

  • What are we going to scan?
  • How do we scan the items?  What kind of scanner?  What resolution?  What workflow?
  • How do we manage the digital files?  How to edit?  Metadata?  How to display on our website?
  • What is the impact of copyright and privacy laws and norms?
  • What do we do with the physical items after scanning?
  • Should we just scan the items that have been donated to us, or should we develop an action plan for identifying and acquiring/borrowing other items?
At the time we started creating a new society website, we formed a committee and had meetings.  It didn't work very well.  For this project, we had one person who pushed the project (me, the librarian,) one person who handled the technical issues, a group of regular library volunteers and patrons who acted as a focus group, and the board, who made the policy decisions.

For a project like this, I find it helps to start a "policies and procedures" document at the start.  At first, all you can add are the major section headers, but as you research and experiment and decide, you start filling things in, so it always reflects your current understanding of the project.  Ours is in a Google docs file accessible to the librarian, the tech guy, and the president.  At several points during the year, I have printed it out and distributed it to the board.

Sections so far:
  • Overview -- our goals and some guidelines
  • Process -- soup to nuts, from scanning to putting on the web to storage
  • Photograph Scanning Standards (there will also be a document scanning section)
  • Metadata Standards
  • Copyright and Privacy Standards
  • Contributed Items (policies about items we don't own)
  • Appendix A: Julia's Notes on Copyright and Privacy 
  • Appendix B: Resources