Be careful, it looks easy, but it’s not.
Heritage digitisation is a risky business, think of the artefact you are handling, even the smallest most common thing, a thing you’ve seen a million of, a cigarette card for example, do you know what that has been through? Who has handled it? Whether part of it’s history has turned it into a real gem? No you don’t, so be careful with it, always.
Obvious rule number one but you’d be surprised how many non-heritage people see something so insignificant as being just another job, it’s scary how poorly and disrespectful things are handled by so called professionals once they leave your collection.
We produced a digitisation project recently, three companies pitched for it, we were the only company pitching to digitise at the client’s site. Three identical leather bound journals, three unique artefacts, two came back damaged.
Respect for the journal once they left the collections care was quite obviously lacking somewhere along the line, and how did ours fare? Well that is obvious too, it traveled mere feet from the secure archive to our digitisation rig and was back there the same day, not the hundreds of miles and the three weeks it took our competitors to deliver back (damaged).
Was it just another job?
Not for us.
The second rule of heritage digitisation is pre-digitisation planning, this needs to be fully in place before digitisation takes place.
All artefacts need to fully logged and numbered, copyright notices also need to thought about which will help any issues surrounding the tagging of image to artefact in post-production; with the right information and our unique methodology, each item can be tagged during the digitisation phase making the finished photo ready to use almost immediately, nail this one, and you’ll find the digitisation is a relative piece of cake, it will then be quicker and thus, cheaper.
Thirdly and lastly (we do need to keep our methodology to ourselves to some degree), digitise to the highest resolution you possibly can. The whole idea behind digitisation in the first place is to minimise its handling in the future, so digitise like the image is going to be printed as big as a wall, even if it isn’t at the moment, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.
Additional cheeky rule four, call us in to digitise, your artefacts will be safe and you’ll sleep at night.