Do you have a historical collection that deserves digital preservation but keep coming back to the same problems? Maybe your project is so extensive you don’t know where to start, or you simply can’t afford an archival project right now. Even if you’ve owned a collection for decades, you’ve probably noticed more recent emphasis on the importance of digitization. To keep your collection pristine, secure, and free from dangerous overhandling, digitization is paramount.
If you have a historical collection that needs conversion, Anderson Archival’s advice is this: just get started!
Outsourcing Is an Option
Outsourcing the digitization takes a lot of pressure off you. While the archival company you choose needs to have your vision in mind, the day-to-day tasks are off your plate and entrusted to experts. Digitizing a project in-house is often an organization’s first thought, but there are many reasons this isn’t sustainable.
Daily tasks are resource intensive and include dedicated personnel standing at a scanner and turning the pages of a book in an expensive cradle scanner. Each page must be monitored for poor-quality images and followed up with a multitude of post-processing work. This is a full-time task for employees who normally have other responsibilities. Often, the project gets delayed. Inevitably, immediate tasks need to be fulfilled, and scanning gets pushed lower on the priority list. Outsourcing gets the job done in a timely manner with little or no burden added to your employees’ responsibilities. Before you consider bringing someone new in to do this work, remember taking on a new hire comes with its own long-term overhead costs, and having an intern perform scanning often means inexperienced hands on fragile and irreplaceable materials.
By sending your documents to a trusted archival company, your organization is freed from laboring over a game plan.
Archivists guide you through each step of the project using their expertise and experience. They’re happy to answer any questions, ask you pertinent questions you may not have considered, and get you started on the right foot.
In all likelihood, outsourcing your archival project provides better quality results as well. Archival companies are equipped with enterprise-grade scanners, software, organizational techniques, and the experienced archivists needed to put those tools to good use. Adding features to your project such as searchability through optical character recognition (OCR) and metadata will move your search to the next level in terms of speed and accuracy.
How can you get started right now? Evaluate your needs—but keep it simple because the heavy lift is for your archival team. How are your documents stored or organized? What would you like to be able to do with them? Which items are the top priority? Talk with your archival company and just start! They’ll guide you through the process.
Budget Wise? You Bet.
When choosing an archival company to kick off your digitization project, look for one that doesn’t require a massive price tag up front. Experienced archival companies provide the option of a metered approach to balance timely completion of a project with a client’s budget.
In this process, you prioritize what you need archived and divide the project into phases with a focus on what your budget can handle or what a board will approve. For instance, a project can be planned out to take two years to complete with each phase delivering you a portion of the collection. You will pay smaller fees monthly while also enjoying measurable deliverables throughout the process. You’ll be able to start using your archives right away. Don’t let budgetary concerns halt your progress or steer you to a poor-quality solution.
Another option that can help pay for digitization is monetization, but this only works if the documents are of wide public interest. In this case, the documents are displayed in an online collection, and the public (or libraries or schools) pays for subscriptions or printing rights. This allows your organization or company to make money off the project as documents are made available to users online.
There are many ways to get started, so if you have a vision for your project, don’t be too worried about what you should do first. Give your archival company a call, and they’ll guide you and get your project started!
Anderson Archival is an archival company that listens to your needs, takes the lead, and offers assistance every step of the way. If you’d like to hear more about what makes Anderson Archival different, give us a call at 314.259.1900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today!