Archival Digitization: The Pathway to Innovation


Digitization offers a multitude of advantages that overlap with the qualities essential to innovation. The innate openness and generativity of the digital realm make it an ideal space for innovative ideas to be created, developed, and widely shared. For instance, the greater accessibility of digital resources expands the pool of knowledge that can be recruited, leading to unexpected and original outcomes. Furthermore, the democratizing drive of these digital resources brings in new contributors, often from outside of elite institutions, who provide fresh perspectives and challenge assumptions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only accelerated digitization processes but also increased efforts to harness these processes and find innovative solutions to familiar or emerging problems. Thus, an open approach to digitization and innovation has the potential to promote resilience in a moment of rapid economic, cultural, and social change.

Optimizing Data

In a digital economy, data is a significant engine for innovation. It can be utilized to better understand customers/users, monitor evolving trends, streamline workflows, or identify research pathways. Therefore, data is a fundamental tool for building agile, adaptive business and service models to meet variable markets and consumer demands.

Institutions that fail to fully optimize this data risk stagnation and may struggle to compete in ever-changing conditions. The core value of digital data cannot be underestimated and pertains to all kinds of organizations, both private companies and the public sector.

However, the accessibility and applicability of data are severely limited when it is contained in outdated forms, such as microfilm. Converting microfilm data into digital forms is imperative so it can be effectively organized, mined, and adapted to boost innovation.

The ScanPro® All-In-One™ range allows for the efficient digitization of microfilm records and archives. Additionally, its industry-leading features seamlessly integrate microfilm scans into research and innovation. The PowerScan Productivity Suite includes fast, accurate, searchable OCR software to aid quick and thorough research. For more detail, the INFO-Link™ option enables specific keywords and topics to be explored with direct links to online reference sources.

Facilitating Collaboration

The digitization process itself is suited to a collaborative strategy. Rather than a single event, digitization should be viewed as an ongoing effort, encompassing diverse factors from IT infrastructure to metadata and online delivery. Drawing on a range of expertise throughout this dynamic process ensures that improvements can continuously be made to the quality, usefulness, and presentation of digital materials.

Digitizing resources creates a collaborative ecosystem that crosses traditional hierarchies, boundaries, and organizational structures. This digital network connects different users with the resources they need to contribute to innovation and propose solutions to complex business or societal problems.

Researchers benefit from an inter-disciplinary approach, with knowledge from various fields being brought to bear on digitized historical documents and artifacts. For companies, an open digitized ecosystem invites collaboration between disparate departments, which generates unique ideas and fosters a cohesive team spirit.

Innovating in Archives

Some organizations are taking digital collaboration even further through crowdsourcing projects. Digitization of archival resources means they can be analyzed by thousands of keen volunteers across the globe. Crowdsourcing allows large-scale research projects to be undertaken at a low cost, as well as nurturing trust and community between academic institutions and the general public. Successful crowdsourcing projects have been established in multiple disciplines, from astronomy to art history.

One well-known crowdsourcing initiative is Galaxy Zoo, which enrolls volunteers to classify distant galaxies by shape, using digital images from the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey and its telescope in Chile. Another example is the Citizen Archivist project at the National Archives Innovation Hub, encouraging volunteers to tag and transcribe historical records and thereby improve their searchability.

In addition to exponentially increasing the scale of research, crowdsourcing projects build engagement. The aims of archival research often reach beyond the records themselves, seeking to cultivate public participation and promote the sharing of material. Digital crowdsourcing projects fulfil this mission by enabling the public to feel involved in research, learn new skills, and experience the excitement of viewing a newly discovered galaxy or uncovering a fascinating insight in historical documents.

Without digitization, these innovative research projects could never have achieved such impressive scales or made so many exciting discoveries. The possibilities offered by the digital realm are generating new, cutting-edge ways to preserve documentary heritage, integrate it into inter-disciplinary research, and share this heritage with a wider audience.

Accelerating Digitization with ScanPro®

There no longer needs to be a frustrating time lag between deciding to embrace the benefits of digitization and actually reaping its creative rewards. With the ScanPro All-In-One models, microfilm archives are efficiently digitized, so you can start analyzing and sharing the wealth of material right away.

All scanners come with a free 6 month ScanPro Advantage membership, including the advanced AUTO-Scan™ Pro software that scans up to 100 images per minute. Moreover, AUTO-Scan Quality Assurance guarantees total image capture, providing an automated digitization process that eliminates the requirement for time-consuming checks. Popular features such as the ‘magic button’ make microfilm digitization smooth, quick, and intuitive.

Download a brochure today and see how your organization can take the innovative pathway of digitization.


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