Writing down steps for digitization

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    • #3662
      Heather_S

      Lindsey talked about writing down individual steps for digitization, from photographing the objects, to doing condition reports, to scanning. Can she provide an example from a past digitization project>

    • #3842
      MuseumPerson

      Hello Heather,

      I am sorry I do not have an example on hand but I do recall how we went about creating such documents. We used them for big projects such as cataloguing, inventory, digitization, etc.

      First, you’ll create what is basically your table of contents. Start with how you imagine you (or your staff) would conduct the project, step by step. It might look something like:

      1. Get original objects
      2. Capture image
      3. Enter data in TMS
      4. Re-house
      5. Return to storage location

      For each of those sections, break it down. It’s usually pretty individual for each institution. For example, when we were inventorying our collections at The Sixth Floor Museum, it was easy enough for teams to go to the next physical location on the shelf or in the filing cabinet and take out the next folder or box of materials to be inventoried. We had a map of the space and could tell looking at it (or at the space itself) when a space was completed and it was time to move to the next one. For our cataloguing project, however, we moved around the store room more idiosyncratically, so our step-by-step description included information about how team members needed to consult with the Collections Manager about what items needed to be catalogued next.

      If you are training staff to use a scanner, you’ll need to describe every step from how to turn it on to what software they should open and what settings they should use. Then how to name the files and where to put them, as well as attach to your database records. It helps to snip images of your screen to include in your how-to document.

      For the data entry section, identify each field you want to be filled and give examples of what to do and what NOT to do. That way your staff has a manual to refer to when they need to remind themselves of how credit lines are formatted or how the dates should be entered, etc.

      If you’re rehousing, describe those steps – what materials are being used, where to find them, how to label and number them appropriately, etc.

      If there’s anything different about how to return items to storage – perhaps you’re using this opportunity to consolidate certain things or reorganize – be sure to write that in as well.

      It’s a bit of a tedious process, I’ll admit, but it is totally worth it. When trying to figure out how exactly we wanted to conduct our inventory project, I got stuff out and started inventorying, taking breaks to write down what I was doing as I was doing it. It was interesting to discover all the things I assumed people would know that I realized as I was doing them, I needed to explain. It’s a bit like narrating yourself cooking dinner or something but it does work! Once I created the first version of the document, I gave it to the team to manage. As our processes changed throughout the project, it was their responsibility to ensure that the step-by-step instructions were kept up-to-date.

      I hope that helps – I am sorry not to have a sample on hand for you, but it is pretty straightforward to create it yourself.

      Best of luck!
      Lindsey
      lindsey@museumperson.com

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