Issues of Importance
Information in this section is taken from:
COLORADO DIGITIZATION PROJECT, GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SCANNING These standards were developed by the Colorado Digitization Project Scanning Working Group, Spring 1999:http://www.cdpheritage.org/resource/scanning/std_scanning.htm

Vendor Considerations:
In-house or Out-source?
Every organization should carefully consider the pros and cons of outsourcing digitization projects or conducting them in-house. Following are some points to consider for both strategies:

In-house pros:

  • Development of digital imaging project experience by "doing it" (project management, familiarity with technology, etc.)
  • More control over the entire imaging process as well as handling and storage of originals
  • Requirements for image quality, access, and scanning can be adjusted as you go instead of defined up front
  • Direct participation in development of image collections that best suit your organization and users

In-house cons:

  • Requires large initial and ongoing financial investment in equipment, staff
  • Longer time needed to implement imaging process and technical infrastructure
  • Limited production level
  • Staffing expertise not always available
  • Institution must accept costs for network downtime, equipment failure, training of staff, etc.
  • Lack of standards and best practices

Outsourcing pros:

  • Pay for cost of scanning the image only, not equipment or staffing
  • High production levels
  • On-site expertise
  • Less risk
  • Vendor absorbs costs of technology obsolescence, failure, downtime, etc.

Outsourcing cons:

  • Organization has less control over imaging process, quality control
  • Complex contractual process: image specifications must be clearly defined up front, solutions to problems must be negotiated, communication must be open, and problems must be accommodated
  • Vendor may know more than client or may presume a level of understanding on part of library/museum/archives that they may not have
  • Lack of standards with which to negotiate services and to measure quality against
  • Originals must be transported, shipped, and then also handled by vendor staff
  • Possible inexperience of vendor with library/archival/museum/historical society communities

Sources Consulted
There are many excellent models and resources available in print and online that have articulated different standards for scanning a variety of materials. The Colorado Digitization Project drew upon the following resources in developing these recommendations. We suggest that institutions review the following resources for further information on scanning practices and procedures prior to implementing a digitization project.

Additionally, we recommend Howard Besser's and Jennifer Trant's excellent online tutorial, "Introduction to Imaging" for a primer on the vocabulary and technology of an imaging project and the issues surrounding the construction an image database. This tutorial can be found at: http://www.getty.edu/gri/standard/introimages/

Besser, Howard. Best Practices for Image Capture. Word Document. 1999.
Besser, Howard. Procedures and Practices for Scanning.
California Digital Library, Digital Object Standard: Metadata, Content and Encoding. May 18, 2001.
California Digital Library, Digital Image Format Standards. July 9, 2001.
Fleischauer, Carl. Digital Formats for Content Reproductions. Library of Congress, July 13, 1998.
Kenney, Anne and Steven Chapman. Digital Imaging for Libraries and Archives. Ithaca: New York, Department of Preservation and Conservation, Cornell University Library, June 1996.
Macklin, Lisa A. and Sarah L. Lockmiller. Digital Imaging of Photographs: A Practical Approach to Workflow Design and Project Management. Chicago: Illinois, American Library Association, 1999.
Puglia, Steven and Barry Roginski. NARA Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access. National Archives and Records Administration, January 1998.
Technical Advisory Services for Images. Building Image Archives. University of Bristol, United Kingdom.
Digital Imaging Group (DIG) is a consortium of image and imaging companies engaged in the development of digital imaging standards and technologies for the consumer market. The membership of more than 80 participants include Eastman Kodak, Digimarc, Fuji, and Polaroid. According to their white paper, their metadata standards are based on XML formats and are designed to support the evolution of digital imaging technology over the next 5-10 years. Because of their near-future and consumer, home use, focus these standards are not appropriate for libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies. http://www.digitalimaging.org/


Options to consider:
Depending upon the intended processing quality and volume, digitization efforts can range from a $79 scanner and free capture software on a personal computer to hundreds of thousands of dollars for professional imaging equipment and reproduction processing.

Image capture
The capture of objects represent about thirty percent of digitization expense (indexing is the other major cost). The principle choices are on-site or central processing. Setting up capture equipment on-site is best done for large collections to minimize movement and handling of originals. If the collection at a site is small, transport to central services is justified.

Most investments in digitization tools are made for long-term efforts, whether as an enterprise or for on-going conversion of large collections. The decision to acquire equipment or contract for services is essentially based on the economics of the process and the type of materials to be captured. Currently, a rule of thumb is to consider spending $5 to $8 per original document or photograph for contracted digitizing (including indexing) services. This will usually produce several image files of staggered resolution / file size copied onto mass storage devices or medium.

Reproduction or hosting services
At its simplest, digital files can be loaded onto hard drives in local servers for local use. For example, a collection of homestead photographs can be kept at the local library for viewing on a computer screen. Storage and retrieval is supported in the building. For a larger audience, the files can be accessible as pages off the library's Web page.

Web hosting of collection
A central service facility, such as a regional or state organization can host files on a Web server with worldwide access. Since CDs are often used as a storage medium, it is possible to produce additional copies for individual distribution. Labeled CDs can be sold or distributed freely to increase public exposure to the collection. Paper reproductions of graphical images can also be produced; however, copyright issues may be involved.

Several options exist for hosting digitized material. Internet service providers host Web pages including small collections of files. On a larger scale, commercial Internet services are available to host significant collections, albeit at a fairly high storage charge. The typical sites for hosting digital collections have been academic, governmental and community organizational servers (e.g., societies, associations). Using a rough guide of .5 Mb file size for each object, it is apparent that only serious storage systems can handle collections of thousands of objects.

Regardless of the use of in-house or contracted services, the organization will need oversight and management capacity during the capture of objects and during the program management phase following the project. The use of steering and stakeholder committees is advised. If the digitization process will be conducted in-house, technical resources as well as object handlers / preparers are required.


Project checklist:

  • When using vendor services for any digital project task always check references.
  • Ask for a list of standards and guidelines used by the vendor.
  • Ask to see examples of similar work done for other projects.
  • Include a clear "scope of work" statement in the contract.
  • Where possible relate the task to specific elements of the budget.
  • Do not include non-binding language such as "may" or "could."
  • Requirements should be specific so that both parties understand expectations.
  • Ask for a detailed timeline and identify key contractor employees who will complete tasks.
  • Be clear on the payment method, decide if the contract will reimburse for costs (cost reimbursement contract) or pay for actual deliverables (performance based contract.)


digital projets