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Fear & Metadata in the Midlands – Adventures of a Digitisation Consultant

I have been whizzing around the country again this week, mainly spending time visiting our clients in the Midlands and London…

The Fear…

Whilst in the Midlands I met with one of our corporate clients.  We have been a digitisation partner with this client for some time, scanning various types of collections including bound reports, magazines and photographs, amongst others.  Our latest project involves digitising a collection of historic Guard Books (pictured), which the client wanted to preserve as they were fearful the Books might soon deteriorate to a point of disrepair.

Guard Books to be digitised

Some of the Guard Books measure more than 60cm x 100cm when open and contain in excess of 150 pages. Each page contains multiple cropped advertisements, normally taken from National Newspapers and Magazines.

Unfortunately some of the adverts have become misplaced or have creases and folds and so, added to the fact that these books are so large, heavy and unwieldy, the preparation and digitisation of these items is quite complex.

Having said that, according to our digitisation operatives, it’s the kind of thing they enjoy scanning.  It allows them to fully employ all of their training, skills and knowledge to ensure that each image is captured to the very best quality possible.  They are also enjoying looking at the content of the material too – as it features adverts from the 1940s and 1950s, which highlight some comic differences between then and now!

The Metadata…

Whilst in the Midlands I visited a customer for whom we have recently digitised and transcribed their historic handwritten cemetery registers and records.  When we digitise this type of bound material and where we may have transcribed the content or key metadata fields, we normally provide our Book Viewing Software in order that the customer can view and search a digital representation of the registers on their computer.

The purpose of my visit was to show them how to use the Book Viewing Software.  To say that they were slightly excited would be quite an understatement!  Unusually, with their 19th Century registers, their staff still handle, view and update them almost every day, and have done so for more than 150 years!

So to be given a piece of software that effectively eliminates the need to handle these large, heavy and deteriorating books, and speeds up the retrieval of information ten-fold, was a leap into the modern age that they said was ‘long overdue’!

On a personal level, it is always incredibly satisfying to know that our processes and software can make such a huge difference to somebody’s everyday work life.