Earlier this year, the Rockefeller Archive started a multi-year plan to re-envision its digitization activities. The goal of this project is to contribute to the RAC’s mission of preserving and providing access to our collections as widely as possible by making digitized content findable, usable, and accessible in a timely manner. In order to achieve this goal, we will provide archivists with the tools, experience, and competencies to handle any digitization request that comes to the RAC, whether it is from a researcher, donor, or other staff member. On top of these tools and competencies, we will create mechanisms for prioritizing requests for in-house and outsourced digitization. 

In the past, our digitization projects, both Audiovisual and Still Image, have been purely boutique and extremely selective; we have been reacting to requests instead of taking a proactive approach to digitizing our collections. Furthermore, our derivative and metadata creation processes have been purely manual, with no automation at any stage of the process. After careful introspection, we realized that we could no longer sustain our current digitization practices while also upholding our mission to provide as broad access to our materials as possible; we could be better.

We had a clear plan to clean up our past digitization projects, but our path forward in regards to new digitization workflows was still fuzzy. We are almost completely overhauling all of our researcher requested, in-house, and audiovisual digitization workflows. However, before we made changes to our workflows, we wanted to make sure we were recommending the right courses of action. To aid us in our decision, we performed a fairly broad review of digitization readings, which you can see below with short, RAC-specific annotations. While we might have obviously missed some readings, or left others out that we feel didn’t fit well within the context of our work, we are generally happy with the knowledge we’ve compiled about digitization in our Zotero library; we feel more confident that we’re following proper standards thanks to this literature review. We’re learning from what others have done, and we’re poised to take an exciting step into the future.

We’ll be firming up our workflow recommendations in the next few weeks and hopefully rolling out our new digitization program soon after. You can find the entire bibliography in our Zotero group, found here.