Archives Technical Information Series # 77
The New York State Archives recommends that any local government or state agency conducting an imaging or micrographics project follow these guidelines.
Step 1: Determine if imaging or microfilming is appropriate
Before planning a microfilming or imaging project, determine which technology is most appropriate for the problems facing you. In general, consider imaging when you need to improve access to records, and consider microfilming when you need to solve a storage or preservation problem. However, a hybrid approach that offers the advantages of both microfilming and imaging may be the best situation.
Step 2: Decide whether to conduct the project in-house or through a vendor
The decision to microfilm or scan records in-house or through a vendor depends on a number of issues. However, most organizations will contract with a vendor to complete all or portions of such a project.
Step 3: Write a specification
Even if you are microfilming or imaging in-house, you must develop and follow a specification, a set of technical requirements designed to help produce quality images. To develop a specification, begin with the State Archives' imaging and microfilming guidelines, then add detailed information about the records in question.
Step 4: Develop a request for proposal
Develop and release a request for proposal that includes your specification for the project, a contract covering delivery of services, and any other details on bidding.
Step 5: Choose a vendor
After receiving vendors' detailed bids, carefully evaluate them. In addition to reviewing the bids, you should obtain recent vendor references and visit their facilities before signing a contract. When evaluating bids, consider a number of issues; do not choose a vendor based on only a single criterion.
Step 6: Prepare the records
Document preparation is necessary to make records ready for scanning or imaging, is usually the most time-consuming and expensive part of the project, and consists of the following activities: organizing the files, purging unnecessary records, removing fasteners, and adding targets or other retrieval aids.
Step 7: Maintain regular communication with vendors
Regular communication with vendors will increase your chances of success and keep your project on track. Good communication should begin before the signing of the contract and continue throughout the project.
Step 8: Monitor the project
To make sure your project does not fall behind schedule, set a timeline and track your progress.
Step 9: Reproduce and index the records
As important as properly filming or scanning records is the process of making duplicate copies of the microfilm or digital images and ensuring you have an adequate index to the records.
Step 10: Inspect the product and preserve the information
After copying the records, you will need to verify you have received quality images that you can easily access and use. Technical inspection of microfilm involves reading density and resolution, ensuring all technical targets are in place, and checking the overall quality of the microfilm. Technical inspection of digital images is often part of the responsibility of vendors, who must ensure that their scanners are operating properly. Especially if you will be destroying the records afterwards, you must verify the images for completeness. Your final step is to preserve the information by storing master microfilm under proper environmental conditions and by ensuring you can still read any scanned images.