As a complement to its conservation services, NEDCC has offered reformatting services to its library, archive, and museum clients since the 1970s. In 2008, we transitioned from microfilming and film duplication to digital reformatting, and built an imaging lab to meet both the varied and specialized needs of our clients. We focus our efforts on the safe digitization of fragile, rare, and historically-significant collections; items that are unusual or difficult to handle; and large collections that may exceed an institution’s internal digitization capacity.
As part of a conservation center, NEDCC’s Imaging Services is dedicated first and foremost to the physical safety of the objects being digitized. Each item is carefully inspected in advance to determine the safest and most efficient digitization method, and handled with utmost care during the process itself. For items that present physical challenges, NEDCC’s photographers consult with its conservators to identify the best approach for the given condition of the item.
NEDCC adheres strictly to the FADGI (Federal Agency Digitization Guidelines Initiative) standards for still-imaging of cultural heritage materials as relates to the environment, equipment, workflow, and deliverables. We employ imaging equipment that minimizes handling and light-exposure to avoid wear and the potential for damage. For example, we never use equipment that employs automated handling designed for mass production, such as sheet-fed scanners or automated page-turning. We also choose our equipment so that we can capture the highest quality digital surrogates possible—files that will render the smallest meaningful detail while reproducing color and tonality with exceptional accuracy.
Imaging Services works on projects in collaboration with NEDCC’s conservation labs. When an item receiving conservation treatment is also being imaged, the photographers consult with the conservators to determine the best time during the process to digitize the item, such as when a book requires disbinding. This further ensures the object’s safety, improves efficiency, and captures the item when it’s looking its best.
NEDCC’s Imaging Services tailors its workflows and deliverables to meet each project’s and client’s specific needs. Projects that are complex or logistically challenging, that have specific and demanding requirements, or that involve unusual or difficult-to-image items are individually considered, the options and possibilities are discussed with the client, and a process is developed to achieve the required results.
Our core service is the digital reformatting of cultural heritage materials, with projects typically ranging in size from a single letter to a collection of 50,000 negatives. We digitize materials at preservation-master quality to capture all visual information for the long-term, and then create derivative files to facilitate access and reduce handling of the original. And, we’ve designed a number of customized workstations to safely digitize some of the most difficult-to-capture formats, from glass plates to wall maps.
To complement clients’ efforts to prioritize their digitization projects based on scholarly content, we offer collection assessments to help them evaluate physical condition and associated risks of handling by the public. Combining curatorial priorities with condition-related priorities produces an optimal, long-term, programmatic digitization strategy.
In collaboration with NEDCC’s Preservation Services department, Imaging Services provides digitization-related instruction and hands-on training. These range from webinars on digitizing personal collections to one-on-one instruction on implementing best practices for an institution’s own digitization efforts.
Interested in working with NEDCC on an imaging project?
Director of Imaging Services
978-470-1010, ext. 214