What is included in all of the packages?
Building a digital archive involves three key steps: strategy, preservation quality imaging, and meticulous tagging. All of the packages contain these steps, to varying degrees. HistoryIT will review your archival holdings – either remotely via questionnaires and video conference or onsite. Some portion of your historical materials will be transferred to a HistoryIT Digital Preservation Lab for conversion into archival quality master files. This assures true digital preservation for generations to come. We will then rehouse all of the materials in archive-safe housing, so that the physical artifacts are preserved as well. HistoryIT will either transport the organized archives back to your League or work with representatives to add the archival materials to a college, university or other local archive to care for their long-term preservation.
HistoryIT will set up an account for your digital archive in Odyssey™, our digital archive management platform. Our metadata professionals will ingest all newly digitized materials into your League’s digital archive, complete with detailed descriptions and subject, League, event, location and era tags. Every identified person will be tagged. If your organization’s international headquarters already manages a digital archive on HistoryIT’s platform, your League’s items will fully integrate with the rest of the organizational digital archive. In either case, your League will maintain a digital history website that presents your collection (or the unrestricted items in it). Each package contains different add-on features to the digital history sites.
All packages produce a report, guide and/or plan for growing and maintaining your digital archive.
What is involved in the packages that provide a HistoryIT expert to conduct an on site assessment?
The Professional and Comprehensive Preservation & Digital Museum Packages allow for a HistoryIT expert to work closely with your physical archive and meet with interested parties in person. While on site, the expert will review any materials already organized into some sort of storage space. They will meet with members to discuss historical materials and where else locally they may be hiding. A portion, or in some cases all, of your archive will be transported to a HistoryIT Digital Preservation Lab for conversion into archival quality master files. This assures true digital preservation for generations to come. We will then rehouse all of the materials in archive-safe housing, so that the physical artifacts are preserved as well. HistoryIT will either transport the organized archives back to the League or work with representatives to add the archival materials to a college, university or other local archive to care for their long-term preservation.
In collaboration with your League, HistoryIT will also reach out to all League members with a call to share any materials they may be holding. These materials will be returned to individual donors should they wish. Alternatively, they will be housed along with the League archive.
The Professional and Comprehensive packages include custom-designed digital history sites and include enhanced features for sharing your story and engaging your members.
If your archive’s size exceeds the specification of your package level, HistoryIT will provide a detailed plan to add the remaining items in future phases.
Why is it so expensive to create a digital archive?
Creating a digital archive involves far more than simply scanning or photographing material. When undergoing digital preservation, quality imaging is critical. Specific guidelines must be followed in order to generate high resolution images that meet certain light, color, and focus specifications. The goal of digital preservation imaging is to produce a file that is as close a replica of the original artifact as is possible to create.
Once the imaging stage is complete, actual digitization begins. To make your digital collection meaningful, people must be able to find and navigate your digital records. This requires creating searchable information that describes each image. Without this important, but involved step, you simply have a haystack of digital needles. HistoryIT tags every single person in the digital archive, as well as provides tags for subjects, events, locations, and eras. Our approach allows online visitors to find linkages among the items, and easily view or read the digitized original item.
Are there any ongoing costs to maintain the digital archive?
Yes. An annual fee is required for your digital archive software license, which allows you to access, manage, expand and share digital artifacts. Multi-year licenses for a discount are available.
Can’t we just scan and add our materials?
These packages are for digital preservation projects, as well as online digital histories. Building a digital archive with digital preservation files provides security into the future. We need to create all digital items at the same high standard in order to fully preserve them for the future. Once the items have been imaged, HistoryIT – or your volunteers – must create all of the descriptive metadata and tags in a consistent manner as the rest of the collection.
What does digital preservation mean?
Adopting a digital preservation strategy involves building a digital archive that will stand the test of time, rather than quickly creating digital items and data to post or share online. Over time, standards will change. Web browsers will make certain media formats obsolete. Thus, when we undertake digital imaging, it is necessary to image at resolutions far greater than we would plan on using at present. This allows us to easily transform those higher resolution digital artifacts into new web formats in the future. If you were to quickly scan images on a desktop scanner and post several JPGs online, for example, it is likely that those images will not be viewable in a few years when web standards change. You would thus have to rescan those images.
If we fail to take this approach, we are embracing a strategy that produces a fun novelty in the present, but does not retain its value over time.
What if we don’t have an archive now?
Just because you don’t have what you might envision as a formal archive, we promise you have history! And we will help you find it. A large portion of it is likely digital! In that case, the goal will be to compile various digital formats. All packages involve HistoryIT connecting with your League representatives, in person or remotely, to gather any physical and digital items they have to include.
We are a young League and don’t have much material. Would our project be different?
Yes and no. Most of HistoryIT’s process is the same for younger Leagues. In fact, Leagues formed in the past twenty years likely have more content than older ones. This is because most of the materials will be digital! HistoryIT will assess all that you have and build a digital archive that will showcase and connect your history to the rest of your organization’s. Most Leagues established in 2000 or after, though, will likely be able to build a complete digital archives with the Professional Digital Archive Package.