The mission of the Digital Lab involves the conversion of analog materials, such as manuscripts and university archives found in Special Collections, to digital; the management of digitized materials and some born-digital media in cloud storage form and on the web; and the cataloging and creation of metadata for those digital objects.
The lab staff coordinates with Special Collections, upstate South Carolina Digital Library partners, and grant partners for the transfer and borrowing of materials for digitization. Many different projects are going on at once in the lab, and it’s the main role of the digital project manager to guide each step in the production of all projects and coordinate between the multitude of personnel involved.
The digital projects manager and lab manager conduct strict quality control to ensure compliance with standards and best practices for handling, and image production. The main goal is to digitize materials in a way that reproduces the original object as it would look in-person. The lab employs a variety of scanners to meet or exceed strict standards. These include: a document scanner, nine flatbed scanners, a cradle book scanner, and an 80MP medium-format digital-back for oversize materials.
Our students are trained by Special Collection in proper handling of most materials they’ll encounter. They also receive training from the lab manager in operating the scanners and workflow procedures required for once-and-done scanning.
Once scanned, materials are returned and digital master images are placed in cloud storage for safe keeping. Working images are generated to safely produce web accessible copies for viewing, thereby avoiding any digital degradation to the original master image.
For detailed information on our workflow process and the guidelines we follow, visit the “digitization” tab in the webpage menu. The equipment and software instructions written up for our scan technicians and best practices reference links can hopefully serve as a guide for those looking to get their institution’s digitization program started.