Sharing the future of digitisation

Hi all,

I support the work of the digitisation programme for the museum and Bristol Records Office. We haveĀ  1 stills officer and 1 moving images officer. I am thinking about what kit we need for digitising and digital storage for the next 5-10 years.

I thought i’d just ask that if anybody thinks that partnering up to share practices, resources (scanners, moving image equipment etc) and maybe LARGE data storage then please get in touch.

Questions I have been asking myself:

  • Can we share costs for expensive items like scanners?
  • The cost of data storage is massive, even using cloud hosting, I wonder of several similar services could share to be efficient?
  • How we can best use volunteers and students to help us?
  • There is some revenue in licensing BUT how can we react to the speed that production companies require?
  • Is there a better way to get the job done through shared work and collaboration?
  • Less resource every year… how can we be proactive in responding when less is NOT more it is less
  • What innovative uses of collections are people rolling out for public free or revenue use?
  • Why can I never pronounce ‘digitisation’ in public!

Thanks

7 Replies to “Sharing the future of digitisation”

  1. Dear Zak,
    You might like to consider posting this to the AHFAP Jisc list, AHFAP is the UK’s museum photography group. We have over 200 members across the UK in all the larger museums and many of the smaller ones. At our recent annual conference one of the speakers described their work with volunteers which is just one aspect to your post above.
    Best regards
    Tony Harris
    AHFAP Chair

  2. Hi Zac, I’ll give you a very radical answer to your question…it depends if you want to do your archiving according to conventional practice or are willing to explore some very good alternatives. During my last few years as a research orientated lecturer in the University of The Arts London, I worked closely with Mike Seaborne, former Senior Curator of Photographs, Museum of London on Riverscape and Mike Evans , Head of Archives, English Heritage, NMR, Swindon on Footsteps of Henry Taunt (the Victorian Photography who wrote the first comprehensive illustrated guide book to the River Thames). In both cases the projects involved ‘Then and Now’ documentary photography. Riverscape was a remake of a 5 mile each bank 1937 Black & White Panorama of Londons Docklands commissioned by the PLA in 1937. Taunt involved finding over 100 Thames ‘Tripod Spots’ from his 1888 Guide book. In both cases we had to copy numerous delicate images and documents in MoL and EH’s archive.

    The fastest, safest and highest quality way to copy any documents or photographic prints is not a scanner in our opinion, but a High Quality Digital Camera on a copy stand with adjustable lights. I would recommend a Fuji X Pro 1 with their prime 35mm lens. This camera has a ‘Shoot Without Lens’ menu setting and the best copying results I have seen use this camera with an adapter and a 1980s f2.8 55mm macro Nikkor film camera lens. You can shoot Raw if you like, but the 45mb jpeg should suffice and this converts easily into a 300dpi uncompressed Tif for archiving. Using a set up like this avoids any sort of distortion, allows faster handing of precious documents and is far easier for copying pages from a book or any photo prints with a stippled or lustre surface (disaster in any scanner !)

    Turning to long term archiving of digital files, in both Taunt and Riverscape we felt that it was highly likely that the ‘Then’ B & W prints from 1888 and 1937 respectivley, would be very likely to outlast any Digital Files (even if in the hands of MoL or EH NMR. We have therefore pioneered a very successful Alternative Method to Safely Archive Digital Photographs and Documents into the 23rd Century, which has recently been published as a Chapter in this book http://www.springer.com/computer/image+processing/book/978-1-4471-5405-1 Mike and I have just successfully completed our first pilot scheme with John Cass East End Archive which National Archives in Kew have asked us to write up as a full Case Study early in 2014 for them to distribute to all their contacts. We are now seeking new partners and collaborators to develop these ideas further with us. If you would like to know more about the Camera or Long Term Archiving side of our work, please drop a line back to my e-mail and I would be happy to send you further details and some attchments Best Wishes Graham Diprose ABIPP Author & Researcher Here is a bit more about me http://www.linkedin.com/pub/graham-diprose/4/700/a04

  3. Hi Zak,

    Digitisation is a little bit of a mine field as there is no set way to get your material into a digital format. Storage can certainly be eased with the use of new file formats such as JPEG 2000 rather than uncompressed TIFFS.

    We have worked with a number of institutes which use students and volunteers for to operate the digitisation equipment and this has been very successful but you have to remember to keep the software restrictive and easy to use. Soon as it gets a little too complicated and people have options problems can occur.

    The other option is to look at getting your collection digitised by a professional service. This eliminates the cost of equipment, operators and time. All of the variables which can cause problems are given to the professionals so they can produce the best image possible. Use the right people and they will also ensure that the material is handled correctly.

    I have also worked with institutes which have chosen to collaborate with other local libraries and although I have not been involved with it directly I have heard of this being a success.

    We actually offer a digitisation consultancy for free which means we can look at all of the options for you and cover everything which is required. After working with the likes of the British Library, Wellcome Trust and National Library of Scotland we have a wealth of experience.

    If you want to contact me direct then please feel free to do so.

    Regards,
    Tom Brown
    07889 538348

  4. Hello Zak,

    I agree with Tony and Tom, there’s a lot to be learned and considered when looking at digitisation: Volumes, possible usage, type of subjects and required reproduction size, along with workflow storage and retrieval solutions.

    We make high end still cameras of up to 80 megapixel that offer a very versatile platform for flat copy work as well as 3D objects, people etc. and that can be used in a studio or in the field. Some of our products are also available in a Wide-Specturm version for conservation work.

    In the UK we work through several resellers, some of them are local to you. If there’s anything I can help with then please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Good luck with your research!

    Yair Shahar
    Product Manager Mamiya Leaf
    077 8992 8199
    http://www.mamiyaleaf.com/cultural_heritage.html

  5. Thanks for replying.

    Tony, i’ll join the list thanks.

    Tom, we are a professional service for digitising BUT the cost of kit and storage is pretty high. I was hoping that others found the same and was curious if us sharing these resources would help in the long-term.

    We are pretty clear on the traditional options (i used to work at Jisc) but was thinking of new or emerging models for getting things done.

    Thanks guys

  6. Zak,

    Can we share costs for expensive items like scanners?

    Some of my efforts at the balboa park online collaborative might be of interest to you where we built a central scanning facility used by 14 museums and then implemented a shared DAM and online public access. Some of the results are posted here:http://www.museumsandtheweb.com/?s=BPOC&submit=Search

    The cost of data storage is massive, even using cloud hosting, I wonder of several similar services could share to be efficient?

    See above.

    How we can best use volunteers and students to help us?

    See above.

    There is some revenue in licensing BUT how can we react to the speed that production companies require?

    Never used it but saw some fabulous demos from this company who did the Jonny Carson archives: http://www.bydeluxe.com

    Is there a better way to get the job done through shared work and collaboration?

    See first note

    Less resource every year… how can we be proactive in responding?

    See first note

    Rich

  7. Zak,
    Some of my efforts at the balboa park online collaborative might be of interest to you where we built a central scanning facility used by 14 museums and then implemented a shared DAM and online public access. Some of the results are posted here:http://www.museumsandtheweb.com/?s=BPOC&submit=Search

    Re:There is some revenue in licensing BUT how can we react to the speed that production companies require?

    Never used it but saw some fabulous demos from this company who did the Jonny Carson archives: http://www.bydeluxe.com

    Is there a better way to get the job done through shared work and collaboration?

    See first note

    Less resource every year… how can we be proactive in responding?

    See first note

    Rich

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