The David Scott Mitchell Collection
The State Library of NSW
Robin Prior, 2017
In August 2016, Abergower Pty Ltd (alongside Clifford Sells Ltd) were successful in qualifying to become a member of the Supply Panel for the Digitisation of Heritage Materials, printed materials category. This panel was established by the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) to identify vendors that could meet the material handling constraints that come with heritage collection items and deliver to the Library’s exacting quality standards.
Early in 2017 Abergower Pty Ltd (with Clifford Sells) , through a competitive tender process, were awarded the contact to digitise 4,500 books (1.3M Pages) from the State Library’s iconic foundation collection, the David Scott Mitchell Books collection. Since the successful completion of that project in September 2017, the company has also secured a second digitisation project for this collection, which will add an additional 1.2M book pages to the Library’s digitised book collections.
The target collection consisted of books of various size, thickness and fragility, with the requirement to digitise covers, pages and fold out maps, diagrams and illustrations where they occurred. The variability and fragility of fold outs added a degree of complexity to the project, requiring a separate capture workflow and in most cases, needing specialised support while being digitised.
From previous experience working on major projects such as the British Library Newspaper Digitisation Project and the National Archives 1911 Census Digitisation Project, Abergower Pty Ltd (with Clifford Sells) were well placed to design and deploy a well-equipped digitisation system on site at the State Library. The project, located in Sydney’s CBD, required the engagement of staff, relocation of hardware and systems as well as the customisation of processing and capture processes to meet specifications in the Library’s Statement of Requirements.
Some of the project challenges were the volume of large files produced from the book scanning operations and the tracking and control mechanisms needed to add metadata to the output images to fully supporting the Library’s requirements. As the project progressed, Abergower Pty Ltd (with Clifford Sells) further developed and refined existing systems to ensure that the workflow and deliverables met the State Library’s exacting requirements.
The onsite digitisation and remote processing project teams delivered over 18,000 images per day at peak and continuous quality control mechanisms ensured that all image files, metadata and project documentation were delivered to the highest standards.
This project has been key in assisting the State Library reach its digitisation objectives and substantially increasing global access to its collections, by creating and preserving digital material on a scale never seen before in Australia.