Towns rapidly adopting digitization projects

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Counties around the country have been heavily investing in digitization initiatives to improve records management as well as preserve historical information. By utilizing document imaging technologies, these towns have been able to better protect critical files from a disaster as well as make data more easily accessible to citizens.

The Shelbyville News reported that Indiana's Shelby City Council recently approved a request from Superior Court II Judge David Riggins to apply for a $5,000 grant from the Indiana State Historic Advisory Board. These funds will be directed toward preparing historical court and other county records for digitization by the State of Indiana's archives division.

"The reason we need additional money is that we have to get those records ready to scan," Riggins explained, according to the news source.

Processing these documents in preparation for digitization includes removing staples, eliminating duplicate copies and organizing files in chronological order.

Other towns have already made headway with these projects. The Herald-Citizen revealed that the process of scanning historic documents at the Putnam County Archives in Tennessee has already begun. Glenn Jones, county archivist, reportedly stated that there has been a growing interest in digitizing the Patton Papers to make them available to anyone, at anytime and anyplace. Jones noted that the records, which document events related to numerous local families, total thousands of pages. These files are currently stuffed into drawers, which not only poses a risk for physical damage but prevents more people from studying them.

A more accessible format
According to the Herald-Citizen, once the process is complete, digital files will be viewable on laptops and other devices as long as there is an Internet connection. Currently, volunteers at the archives are organizing the records to be scanned in Nashville.

"The original copies will always be at the archives, but digitizing them will be also be an official legal copy," Jones explained to the source.

The Herald-Citizen also reported that commission members recently received a $2,345 grant from the Secretary of State's office, which is aimed at helping improve the storage conditions of government records, as well as make them more accessible.

Jones noted that he hopes the digitization project will encourage citizens who have any historic documents, photos or other materials that could be useful for education purposes to send them to the archives.

"We don't have any of those records," he stated, the news provider revealed. "We can then preserve that history."

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