Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Levels of Service for Image Digitization

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Levels of Service for Image Digitization

Article excerpt

William LeFurgy's 2002 article, "Levels of Service for Digital Repositories," presented a broad and useful classification scheme to characterize emerging services for digital preservation.

LeFurgy's minimal, enhanced, and optimal classes of service describe "inevitable differences in serviceability" according to attributes of the source materials and the technological infrastructure of the repository.

This same concept applies to digitization. Spectrums exist for the complexity, quality, and effort required for digitizing historical works. With images, the distinctions among technique, quality, and format choices in traditional copy photography still apply in the digital world.

Functional requirements for reproductions dictate the minimum thresholds for staffing (skills), equipment, and quality control. Librarians cannot reasonably expect to receive 8x10-inch negative quality at 35mm negative prices.

This chapter describes the program components necessary to produce discoverable, sustainable, and usable collections of surrogate digital still images for legacy collections of photographs, prints, and other pictorial works.

Assuming that a library has already made appropriate program investments in digital library technology (Chapter 1) and digitization program management (Chapter 2), the baseline level of service for image digitization must be configured to yield a digital image collection. In this context, service refers to the standards, systems and skill (staff expertise) brought together to serve production goals for throughput and quality.

In other words, omit any single baseline component and the production operation will not have the ability to create image and metadata products that meet the following criteria:

* The surrogate is appropriately cataloged and discoverable, and the descriptive metadata are stored in a well-supported system.

* The surrogate digital file can be opened and rendered as an image.

* The surrogate is appropriately named to be identified by some type of inventory control mechanism (ranging for a printed list to a complex database).

* All versions of surrogate files are appropriately stored, identified, and documented (with administrative metadata) for ongoing management.

* The surrogate can be reliably delivered by the library's (or partner organization's) designated applications for networked access.

Fulfillment of these minimum criteria--whether measured against local or community definitions of what is appropriate or good (see, for example, NISO's Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections)--are presumed to offer the potential for sustainability.

Levels of service above-the-baseline are required for any project that explicitly states requirements for pictorial quality, for search and discovery with a controlled vocabulary, and for persistence. As every camera user knows, taking a pictures is different from taking consistently good pictures.

Regardless of what is behind the lens--film, a CMOS chip, or a CCD array--all products of light-lens photography start from the aggregate quality of the composed image before its capture: its illumination, focus, exposure, framing, and point of view. In short, the human component to photography remains strong.

Baseline production services

Provided that systems are in place to store cataloging data and images, and to make the catalog(s) and images Internet accessible, key image digitization tasks (and their attendant standards, specifications, and best practices) requiring infrastructure are:

* Production of descriptive metadata (cataloging)

* Production of images (scanning)

Cataloging and digital imaging infrastructure neither needs to be deep nor expensive to produce Internet-accessible digital image collections. Many libraries and historical societies have produced digital images collection with one or two scanners linked to standard office computers, image processing software, a database software for cataloging and linking, and a Web front end for indexing, searching, and image delivery. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.