SDS Heritage is able to provide complete Turnkey Solutions for your organisation: Scanning, Web Site Design, Database Design, Project and Product Management, Indexing and Hosting. We take your archives and produce the entire product....
Every project is unique. Each one reveals its own set of particular challenges. Yet at the core of each lies a broadly similar pattern, beginning with the specification. The client will invariably have firm ideas about what they wish to achieve. The three core ones tend to be:
- Making their archive material available to a wider audience;
- Providing faster, more efficient and more flexible means of locating specific information;
- Improving the security of their original archive material from potential loss, damage or destruction.
Clients may also have requirements as to how the archive might be distributed, and will also typically have a view as to their particular audience, requirements and expectations, and its demographics.
SDS Heritage handles your archives through all stages of the production cycle, from collection of materials, through to the finished product:
We will collect archive materials from you, or receive them via your preferred specialist courier. Small archives might be managed in one delivery; large archives might be staged in several, perhaps over several months. The materials might be bound volumes, single leaf pages or large format sheets, and the archive materials themselves might vary also. We have scanned paper, canvas, parchment, velum, and fabric. You can read more about our specialist scanning services here.
Irrespective of size or material, all archives require careful handling. The very act of placing an old volume on an inappropriate scanning bed can cause irreparable harm. So we take care both in how we handle a document and in how we choose to scan it. If a document is too valuable or too fragile for it to leave your site, we can scan it there, with your experts or curators on hand to observe and advise.
Once it has been scanned, the fidelity of the digital image of each document is carefully checked. We also ensure that all pages are properly aligned and uniformly scaled and trimmed. Pages might also be digitally "cleaned" to remove from the image any dirt or stains that were present on the original. This is a subjective matter and is only done if it is considered desirable in the client’s view. The same sort of consideration applies to such matters as colour correction or enhancement, or indeed any image enhancement.
Once scanned the documents are securely returned to you, typically, in the manner in which they were delivered. At this stage, many clients take this opportunity to move some or all of their archive to secure storage, where it will take up less space, or where especially valuable or vulnerable documents can be held in environmentally controlled conditions. We do not provide such a service, but are able to competently and confidently advise solutions.
It is almost always the case that the newly digitised documents are required to be made available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs, the de facto industry standard, compatible across a wide range of delivery platforms.
It is also the case that the great majority of documents contain text, in some form or other, and that such text is required to be digitally readable. We have a wide variety of software tools that can perform the task of optical character recognition (OCR) to facilitate this task. In addition to the OCR process, PDF documents can also be enhanced with a variety of interactive bookmarks, tables of contents, links to other documents, and even links to other media such as video clips or links to external web sites. Finally, PDF documents are optimised to suit the client’s preferred modes of delivery.
Our database designers will study the document collection and discuss its structure and content with the client, matching their considerations against the client’s given requirements. They will use this knowledge to design a database structure that properly reflects the intrinsic information content of the archive. Typical devices include categorisation (not just of documents, but of articles and images within those documents), keyword and collocational analysis, and so on. Various processes are used to extract the appropriate data from the document collection, and populate the database and its attendant indices.
The role of our design team is to take the archive document collection and make it database user-friendly and accessible. They will be consider colour schemes, textures, significant motifs and devices, and at how to handle different types of document that might have different orientations – indeed quite different characteristics – to sit comfortably within the same computer interface. The client will also have their own requirements too, such as corporate styles governing the use of logos, fonts and colour schemes, that are also taken into consideration in the design stages.
The client may also require novel interface features. Rather than having simply a text-based, menu driven interface, it might be more appropriate to have an interface based on a timeline, or a series of interactive maps, or combination of several different metaphors. Our design team is capable of creating all-manner of appropriate interfaces.
The precise tools that our programmers user to write the code that underpins the application will vary according to whether the digital archive is to be made available for public release, whether it is to be on CD-ROM or DVD, or whether it is to be distributed over the web or is for localised access over an intranet. The entire process is moderated by rigorous testing of the product. For example, a web-based product would be tested on Windows, Mac OS and Linux under the most current versions of the principle browsers.
Once the client is satisfied that the product meets their criteria, and the product is complete, our involvement does not end there. It is inevitable that a few users might encounter difficulties, so we provide on-going technical support for the life of the product, and updates or upgrades when and where required by the client.