Some years ago I researched and wrote a report for the National Museum of Ireland advising on best practice for digitising a photographic 35mm slide collection of significant importance. Obviously as technology and knowledge moves forward all the time, much of the information I gathered at the time is out-of-date now. However, in my report I emphasised technology independent issues such as project management and workflow. No matter what level of resources and budget you have, it is these elements that are most crucial to the success of your project.
My advice here is:
Do not be put off by what seems to be old publications as many resources include information about best practice, and do not get hung up on the hardware or software, yet. Once you have decided on the workflow, then you will have to learn about file formats, image resolution and other technical details. Many of the links below include technical information so you will probably pick this up as you read around the subject. The main thing to learn is what is the best quality image that should be produced; do not get bogged down with the latest fancy program!
- decide what is the desired end result;
- plan the journey (workflow);
- how to get to the final result (software and hardware);
- run tests using various dpi and software settings, etc.;
- do it.
To what extent you will incorporate every recommended element will depend on your budget. In the real world, the best you can aim for is to scan at the highest/best resolution possible so, at the very least, the images can be used again at a later stage to improve a project. As you educate yourself about best practice it will dawn on you that there’s a very good chance that one gets only a single chance to do a digital project: this is because the most valuable resource of all – time – is scarce and brief, thus do, please, try to get it right first time!
In this post I will share some online resources (listed here in no particular order) which can help you to plan your imaging project.
- Wayne Fulton’s page: A few scanning tips. (digital image basics 101)
- Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI): this very helpful site that is packed with information has now been archived
- Linda Sorenson Colet, Donald D’Amato, Franziska Frey, and Don Williams. Guides to Quality in Visual Resource Imaging (2000) https://old.diglib.org/pubs/dlf091/ or https://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/visguides/.
- Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative. Digital Conversion – Documents and Guidelines: A Bibliographic Reference. This page contains many links to various bodies that have produced imaging guidelines http://www.digitizationguidelines.gov/still-image/digconv.html
- CDL Digital Library Services Advisory Group. CDL Guidelines for Digital Images (CDL GDI). Reviewed and updated annually. https://momo50.wikispaces.com/file/view/cdl_gdi_v2.pdf
- Stuart D. Lee. Digital Imaging: a practical handbook (Library Association, 2000)
- NARA. Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: links to various resources
- Steven Puglia’s NARA Electronic Access Project Scanning and File Format Matrix (very useful)
- A detailed and technical book by Steven T. Puglia, Jeffrey Reed, Erin Rhodes is Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Creation of Production Master Files – Raster Images (Digital Library Federation, 2004). Preview on Google Books
- Working on a small budget? See Dr Keith J. Morris’ presentation “The Scanning of Colour and B&W Film and Photographs for Image Processing, Analysis and Archiving – On a Tight Budget“