Calculating All That Jazz: Accurately Predicting Digital Storage Needs Utilizing Digitization Parameters for Analog Audio and Still Image Files

By White, Krista | Library Resources & Technical Services, April 2016 | Go to article overview

Calculating All That Jazz: Accurately Predicting Digital Storage Needs Utilizing Digitization Parameters for Analog Audio and Still Image Files


White, Krista, Library Resources & Technical Services


Much has been written about digitization projects over the last two decades, and digital storage has been highlighted as a central feature of any digitization project. What is missing from the library science literature is a method to reliably calculate digital storage needs on the basis of parameters for digitizing analog materials such as documents, photographs, and sound recordings in older formats. (1) Library professionals and library assistants who lack computer science or audiovisual training are often tasked with writing digital project proposals, grant applications or providing rationale to fund digitization projects for their institutions. Digitization projects involve purchasing additional storage mechanisms to house files for preservation and access. Digital project managers need tools to accurately predict the amount of storage for housing digital objects and estimate startup and ongoing costs for such storage. (2) To make those predictions, they must decide which standard their organization will use to create archival masters for long-term access and/or preservation because the standards they apply will affect digital file sizes. This paper provides two formulae for calculating digital storage space for uncompressed, archival master image and document files and sound files. The two formulae presented provide parameters for digitization that will also aid digitization project managers to make informed decisions regarding digitization standards and equipment purchases for their projects. Formulae for 3-D scanning and moving image (video) objects would be a valuable addition to the field, but are beyond the scope of the current study.

The first part of this paper lays out the method for the formulae for predicting the digital storage needs of analog objects, which depends on their media types and characteristics. The second section, the literature review, demonstrates aspects of digital project management, contextualizing the environment in which librarians and digital project managers must predict digital storage needs, including costs, professional debates about digitization as a preservation tool, and varying best practices and standards documents that complicate project implementation. The third section of the paper introduces the formulae, the experiment design, and the results of testing the formulae for accuracy and reliability. In the final section, the results of the experiments and the elements of the formula for still image and document storage calculations are contextualized using experiences reformatting the transcripts for the Jazz Oral History Project (JOHP) at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University. The appendix at the end of the essay defines terms to help those new to digitization navigate specialized terminology used here.

The JOHP is

   a collection of audio tapes for 120 oral histories of seminal
   pre-Swing Era and Swing Era jazz musicians recorded between 1972
   and 1983. The JOHP was initiated in 1972 by the Jazz Advisory Panel
   of the Music Program of the National Endowment for the Arts.
   Musicians sixty years and older (as well as several younger artists
   in poor health) were interviewed in depth about their lives and
   careers. The taped interviews range in length from 5 to 35 hours
   each and are accompanied by typewritten transcripts. They have been
   consulted by hundreds of scholars and writers producing articles,
   books and dissertations, in addition to frequent use by producers
   of radio and television. (3)

The process of digitizing the nearly 26,000 pages of transcripts for ingestion into RUcore, the Rutgers digital repository, is underway to make the transcripts and audio files of the JOHP publicly available online. Research on calculating digital storage needs occurred simultaneously with the JOHP digitization project because other oral history projects were being submitted to the libraries for digitization and digital storage of the JOHP needs for these projects also needed consideration. …

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