Bringing East Dunbartonshire’s photographic library to a worldwide audience
When East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust wanted to make part of it’s rich collection of heritage photographs more accessible to the public, they approached digitisation and software specialist, TownsWeb Archiving Ltd, who were able to provide an elegant and comprehensive solution.
East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust (EDLCT) is a charity, which promotes sport, the arts and local heritage in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Janice Miller, Information and Archives Officer at EDLCT, was tasked with digitising part of the Trust’s photographic collection after funding was secured from the local Council. Janice explains “I contacted TownsWeb Archiving after reading about a similar digitisation project that the firm had completed for Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust.”
After Janice outlined the project over email, Managing Director and Senior Digitisation Consultant at TownsWeb Archiving, Paul Sugden, suggested a consultation at the EDLCT library to discuss it in detail. Janice Miller and EDLCT Head of Libraries, Christine Miller, attended.
“Janice made me aware from the outset that this would be EDLCT’s first significant photographic digitisation project. Many of the clients we work with haven’t undertaken a digitisation project of this nature before, so I was happy to explain the process and the options available, as well as discussing her aims for the project” said Paul Sugden.
He continued “In this case EDLCT were looking to make around 5000 images from their photographic library more accessible by digitising them and making them available to the public online, through a bespoke website.” Paul advised Janice and Christine that TownsWeb’s developers could design a website to display the images and suggested that TownsWeb’s unique PastView digital collections management system (www.past-view.com) would be ideal to power the site.
He explained that the PastView system would offer EDLCT staff complete control over how the collections were displayed on the site. It would allow them to create custom categories and display additional metadata alongside each image, in addition to making the images searchable by keyword.
The web-hosted PastView system would also serve as an e-commerce platform; enabling EDLCT to generate additional revenue by allowing visitors to order prints of images in their collection online.
Happy with the complete solution that Paul proposed, Christine and Janice agreed to go ahead with the project. A date was then arranged for the first batch of materials to be collected for scanning.
Collecting the photographs
TownsWeb Staff personally collected EDLCT’s photographic collection in a secure, GPS tracked company vehicle and transported it to their facility in Northamptonshire. This personal collection and return service is used by TownsWeb Archiving whenever transporting rare and precious material.
Scanning the collection
Due to the ageing condition of the material and it’s rare and unique status, TownsWeb sought to mitigate any risk of damage to the original items and so used overhead, flat-bed equipment to capture the images.
Digitisation staff scanned the front and back of each photograph to produce high resolution images. To preserve the collection as faithfully as possible, black and white images were captured in greyscale, whilst full colour and sepia images were captured in their true colours.
Each scanned digital image file was named according to the original photograph’s reference code in the client’s collection, and digital image folders were named to match the physical photo collections.
Transcription of metadata
Janice wanted to preserve the information contained on the photographs in the collection; including descriptions, dates the images were taken and the names of people and places featured. TownsWeb staff transcribed all of this data, with an extremely high level of accuracy, so that it could be made available on the EDLCT Images website.
Software developer at TownsWeb, Shain McAlindon, was responsible for designing the EDLCT Images website.
After being briefed on the functionality the client needed from the site, Shain liaised with Janice Miller to gain an idea of how she wanted it to look and feel aesthetically. Shain explains “The client wanted the EDLCT Images site to be consistent with the style and branding of the Trust’s main site, but also differentiated so that it was obvious to users when they moved between the two.”
“Following that brief I put together a draft website design, which Janice was very pleased with and gave us the go ahead to build.”
In the next phase of the project, Shain at TownsWeb configured the PastView system that would allow Janice and her colleagues complete control of the content on the EDLCT Images website.
Co-ordinating with Janice throughout the installation process, Shain was able to set up the system to cater exactly to EDLCT’s requirements. “I imported all of the digitised images into EDLCT’s PastView installation, together with associated metadata. I also created the specific categories that Janice wanted the images to be displayed under on the website, allocating the image content under these and adding thumbnail images for each of them.”
Shain also added an EDLCT watermark to all of the imported images, using PastView’s integrated watermarking function, to help protect EDLCT’s copyright when the images were made live online.
As part of the PastView installation and website development, e-commerce functionality was built into the EDLCT Images site using the secure WorldPay platform. This enabled EDLCT to generate revenue by allowing site visitors to place orders online for photographic prints of images in their digital collections.
TownsWeb fulfils the printing and dispatch of these orders as part of it’s arrangement with EDLCT, passing on a percentage of the profit directly to the Trust. Once the PastView system was configured and linked to the finished EDLCT Photo Library website, Janice and Christine were given access to a test version online. This allowed them to work through the system and request any minor final adjustments, before signing it off.
To ensure EDLCT staff were able to maintain the digital collections and Photo Library using PastView, TownsWeb’s Paul Sugden provided a full day of on-site training for Janice and three others at EDLCT’s premises.
Launching the sitenal images from EDLCT’s other collections, adding extra categories, and organising PR coverage to promote the website’s launch, the EDLCT Images (www.edlcimages.co.uk) website was sent live in May 2013.
TownsWeb offered us a complete end-to-end service, from scanning and transcription, to web design and content management software. Their work was completed quickly and to a high standard, and we are extremely pleased with the results.
“TownsWeb offered us a complete end-to-end service, from scanning and transcription, to web design and content management software. Their work was completed quickly and to a high standard, and we are extremely pleased with the results.
Janice Miller, Information & Archives Officer, EDLCT.