How It All Began: The Start of Anderson Archival

Before Anderson Archival, there was Anderson Technologies. It might seem strange that an IT company would branch into digital archiving, but the story behind this expansion showcases what clients of both firms know about us: integrity, dedication, and client focus are core values at the heart of all we do. Our hallmarks include expertise and quality service because your satisfaction is how we define our success.

Anderson Archival came to fruition because we learned the hard way that sometimes to do a job right, you really must do it yourself.

The First Project

As Anderson Technologies, we provide far more than managed IT services support. When a client approached us years ago to digitize a large collection of documents for research purposes, we utilized our technical management capabilities to facilitate the project.

Identifying appropriate partners in the required disciplines to properly execute the project was harder than we anticipated. We eventually teamed with a local vendor to scan and restore the images and handle the optical character recognition (OCR) to convert pictures to text before we performed the document data tagging, software engineering, and quality assurance.

As the vendor delivered data to us, we identified numerous quality issues. They produced work that was not up to the high standards we needed for the collection. Missing pages, poor scan quality, and inaccurate conversion to digital text caused us to double check everything and send a great deal back to be redone. As the project continued, we realized we could have done things correctly the first time by bringing the tasks in-house.

The Problem

The experience taught us a great deal about digitization services, and we learned it takes more than technology to create a quality digital library. Anyone can get the best scanners or software on the market, but without dedicated employees, efficient systematization, the proper work environment, and an unflagging commitment to quality, the end result suffers.

For example, we later discovered the vendor only required a high school education for its staff. The goal of these workers, who were crammed together elbow-to-elbow in a conference room, wasn’t to produce the best product they could, but to push pages out the door as quickly as possible.

We also learned they didn’t have the necessary tools to facilitate the detailed quality control needed for the images. Though their scanners and software were excellent, their monitors were too small to display the entire page without being zoomed out so far that the image became useless for a quality check. 

By the time the project was complete, we learned many lessons on how not to digitize historical documents for quality search results. When another client approached us with a project to digitize historical documents, we knew using traditional scanning vendors would produce inaccurate results. This time, we were going to do it ourselves and do it right.

More Than Just Scans

There is far more to digitizing a precious collection than simply scanning the pages. Our clients want extremely accurate search results, which means the images must be converted to text via OCR and labels (or tags) need to be inserted to guide the search engine to produce relevant feedback. This requires not only the correct software, but a great deal of time and attention to detail by those transforming the data. It is important to select a firm who will treat your collection with the same focus and enthusiasm you do.  Working with a third party who doesn’t cherish the opportunity to preserve your documents causes the end result to suffer dramatically.

Keep an eye on our blog to see how we applied these lessons and expanded into the business of historical document digitization. If you want to turn your collection into a quality digital library with the most accurate search results, contact Anderson Archival today at info@andersonarchival.com or by phone at 314.529.1900.

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