Digitizing and Archiving of your Private Information
Save your valuable information in digital format for:
- more compact storage,
- lower environmental requirements,
- easier access and
- better preservation of the originals
WE ARE SPECIALISTS IN ARCHIVAL DOCUMENT AND BOOK DIGITIZING
We offer you the total solution to digitizing your books, records, and data.
The Full Archiving process involves four major steps, with an optional 5 step to have the originals "Archivally" Preserved:
Scanning: We use “high end,” fully controllable scanners; including some specifically designed for scanning books without causing the damage usually resulting from the use of a conventional flatbed scanner. This also includes some scanners able to scan an 11” x 17” page in a single pass. We also have an ultra high resolution scanner capable of scanning 35 mm and larger format original film and displaying high quality images from them at regular print and display sizes.
Modern, economical, “High Street available" scanners are designed for simplicity of use, and do a fine job until the subject does not conform to the expected characteristics of commonly scanned subjects. So a contemporary, computer printed, page is easily scanned and may even be OCRed as a part of the scanning process. Most of our books, however, were printed close to 100 years ago when the technology of printing was much more basic, most book papers had a much rougher surface, and “foxing*” has toned the paper by varying degrees across the page. It is in these cases where our specialized experience, and the capability of customizing the scanning controls, including using scan resolutions 30% higher that most utility scanners are preset to use, allows us to run scans which will render more readable images, limit the amount of image editing we need to apply, and improve the OCR result so that we can minimize the number of hand corrections we need to make to keep your search accuracy up to our regular standard.
*foxing is the technical name for the damage seen in "old" paper where some processing acids remained bound up in the "pulp" which forms the body of the paper itself. When these acids have access to moisture they react with the elements of the pulp and "burn" it. The evidence of this reaction is seen as a darkening (toning) of the paper's color, and/or - where there are concentrated pockets of acid - individual brown spots appear (usually circular.) When a book is closed it is only the edges of the papers which are in contact with the air, (which is the primary source of the moisture enabling this reaction.) As a result the outer edges of the pages tend to suffer the most from foxing and will appear browner than the "inside" portions of the page. The damage caused by foxing is NOT limited to color change only. The whole structure of the paper is being "burned," resulting in weaker, more brittle, paper.
Image Editing (clean-up): We use image processing software to make the page images “clean” and “readable.” Not only does the foxing (see "foxing" above) cause the paper to darken or become “splotchy” but the 100 odd years of exposure to airborne dirt can cause the pages can become surprisingly grubby (even if they have managed to avoid some reader's dirty hands, and the remnants of the lunch their owners were eating!) Careful use of the scanners can minimize these issues but there are often particularly dirty areas which need, targeted, detailed treatment. Then there is the hand set "type" and the actual printing process. “Moveable type” was expensive but only made of lead so as it was used over and over again, the relieved character was forced flatter and flatter into the type block. In the worst cases the outer edge of the block managed to contact the paper during printing and so leave what effectively became a lower case “l” or an upper case “I” between each character. It is amazing that the human eye can discount this so easily but the far more literal OCR software reads EVERY character and so tends to produce a virtually unintelligible search index. Using our “clean-up” processes we find it better to hand edit these false printing lines out, along with various ink “splotches”, handwritten comments, and so on. We even “fix” the typesetters mistakes when it is absolutely clear that it IS a mistake. (In questionable cases we leave it as printed but may correct the unseen OCRed word so the user can find what we think it should be, but can make up his/her own mind.)
Processing: The scans can then be processed with our professional optical character recognition (OCR) software - if you require your archived text data to be computer searchable. Following our standard process we review the results of the OCR, where the software leaves “flags” on any character which it is not 100% sure are correct. This is where we introduce the final hand editing “improvement” which brings our OCR results as close to 100% as it is currently "logically" and humanly possible to achieve.
Recording: We strongly recommend the application of the PDF (Portable Document Format) for recording the scanned and OCRed results. It is a format which is close to universally compatible with any modern computer (less than, say, 10 years old) and is very good fit for this application. Other formats can be applied after further discussion.
Preservation: We only undertake "first aid" repairs to documents in order to prevent existing damage from being aggravated by the handling and scanning process. We do, however, often work closely with UBBINK BOOK AND PAPER CONSERVATION on projects with the combined aims of making a digital reproduction while the original is conserved and stabilized against further deterioration. We would be glad to provide you with combined quotations for a full program of Private Archiving, Stabilization and Archival Storage for your valuable collection.
Pricing: What you have seen above is a our recommended process for digitizing your documents, but we are here to make the digital record YOU need, not the one we force on you. We will discuss every step with you, in the context of your needs, and will come to an agreement on the optimal solution for you. You will realize, however, that some of the processes outlined above can be quite expensive because of the number of man-hours they will consume. We want to make sure you get the best results for your money so we would, BY FAR prefer to make you a customized quote rather than quote you a “scary” high or “unrealistic” low price, based on a wild guess.
PLEASE CONTACT US FOR A QUOTE.