Empowering Wise Decisions
Working with you to understand your collections and plan steps toward a Digital Archive
For larger organisations, this is often our starting point, establishing a Digital Archives Strategy that will guide the organisation and aid their engagement with the digital world so that they are free to enjoy its benefits while avoiding its pitfalls. We have created strategy documents for National, Provincial and Municipal organisations. We base such a strategy on a careful engagement with you and your organisation and build the strategy framework on the basis of our expanded 12 Processes Model developed following our involvement in the writing of the best practices of the National Policy on the Digitisation of Heritage Resources.
For smaller organisations and for organisations that already have a strategy document in place, our interaction often begins with a visit to view your archive or collection to enable us to understand where you are in your journey to build a digital archive and where you want to get to. This often translates to a Building a Digital Archive Report where we introduce you to the Seven Steps to Building a Digital Archive and where you might place your organisation in terms of those steps.
Once one engages with the practical implementation of any one digitisation project, we can provide an estimate of what the project will actually cost. Such a quote is usually provided at no cost to you.
Following engagement with us, most institutions and organisations realise that building a digital archive can be done viably over time and utilising existing budgets. However, there are occasions where one needs to look for funding for large projects. If you are a public benefit organisation, funds are available for digitisation projects and we have assisted a number of organisations to secure funding from sources like the Lotto, the National Heritage Foundation and the European Union.
The 7 Steps
7 Steps to building a Digital Archive
The first step to building a Digital Archive is to take the decision ‘to build a digital archive’. This often involves decision makers at Board or Senior Management level because building a digital archive is an enduring process that should, theoretically, continue as long as the institution or organisation exists.
The next step is to conceptualise a pilot project to engage the potential audience of your Digital Archive. This may be a digitisation project capturing analogue materials into digital form, or it may be a project to process born-digital materials. Either way, the content worked on should have potential to engage the majority of your intended audience.
It is no good carrying out a pilot project if your audience cannot engage with the output of the project. Here you need a Digital Repository such as Africa Media Online’s MEMAT Digital Repository System that not only preserves the digital files for the long-term but also allows you to curate them and make them discoverable.
The next step is to do an audit of the physical and digital collections. This process gives you a clear idea of what is in your archive. Sometimes this is a once-off audit of the entire collection, but more often it is an inventory process ahead of the next step.
Next is the process of establishing the budget. This may be a specified budget for a large project, an extension of the annual budget or it could just an amount, large or small, that fits within your organisation’s existing budget.
The Plan lays out how the projects will fit within the budget. This may be for that one big project, or more likely, for the smaller projects that will be incorporated within the budget over the next few years.
The final step is to action the Plan, usually on an annual basis. Africa Media Online can work with you to cost a project and carry out the digitisation or digital processing, capture metadata and load the files to your Digital Repository.