In order to reduce the risk from disaster, save space and make documents more accessible, you might wish to convert vital and 'live' records from paper to image. Specialist bureau exist to undertake this task for you. Alternatively, you can rent or invest in suitable scanners and undertake the task in-house. Careful planning is needed to ensure that the exercise is cost-effective, the correct index references for subsequent retrieval are generated with the images and that records remain accessible during the process.
Specialist bureau provide services to convert paper or microfiche to digital images. Decisions will have to be made on how much of an archive to convert, based upon utilisation, cost, security and contingency. The services typically provided include:
- Document preparation
- High speed scanning
- Image quality control
- Data entry/capture for document indexing
- Data quality control
- Output (images and data values on a media of choice for input to a document management system: some bureau can offer the facility to make document libraries available on self-contained CDs, with integrated enquiry and viewing capabilities; others provide web-based applications hosted from their offices)
- Document re-assembly
- Secure document disposal, if required
A number of bureau offer a complete 'outsourcing' service, whereby they will receive and scan documents, index according to agreed criteria and thence make them available via an internet accessible imaging solution. Their customers therefore do not have to invest in in-house document management technology. There is also the option to contract a storage facility provider who can offer 'scan on demand' services. Some bureau will also be able to assist in the conversion of legacy media, such as older proprietary optical disks, to newer storage media. They will need to explain their methodology to you so that you are sure the integrity of (and relationships between) image files and index data is maintained.
Specialist imaging bureau services could include:
- Large format scanning (up to A0)
- Colour scanning
- Forms recognition
- Raster-to-vector (image to CAD) conversion
- Scanning from x-rays, slides, transparencies, microfiche, film or aperture cards
- The creation of film/fiche as well as images to reduce the potential costs
You should not forget also the option of microfilming archive records for permanent preservation: this medium has an internationally accepted life expectancy of 500 years. Read more.
Please also see our complementary information resource, The Document Site
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