Imaging Projects

General

The conversion of source records to another medium is often undertaken to reduce storage costs, increase efficiency in information retrieval and distribution, and improve security. When undertaken according to prescribed standards, an imaging program will produce high quality reproductions of paper records that can stand in the place of the original, and meet all legal, fiscal and operational requirements. An imaging management program may involve the production of photographic (microforms) reproductions or electronic reproductions, or a combination of both processes.

The Canadian General Standards Board defines an image as
...the representation of a source record that can be used to generate an intelligible reproduction of that record, or the reproduction itself, where:

  • the reproduction is made with the intention of standing in place of the source record;
  • the interpretation of the reproduction, for the purposes for which it is being used, yields the same information as the source record; and
  • the limitations of the reproduction (e.g., resolution, tonal or hues) are well defined and do not obscure significant details. The source record may be subject to disposal for the purpose of constituting the image as the permanent record.

Preliminary requirements for an imaging project

  1. All academic and administrative offices must contact UTARMS before undertaking an imaging project.
  2. Records series, which are not covered by a University Records Schedule, must be appraised for final disposition. If a records retention schedule does exist, then it will require revision to reflect the existence of an imaged copy.
  3. The project’s integration into the usual and ordinary course of business of the office.
  4. The establishment and documentation of the program’s systems and procedures.
  5. Provision for quality assurance.
  6. Provision for appropriate storage and preservation of storage medium considering its desired retention period.
  7. The program’s conformity to all applicable micrographics and electronic image standards.

Published Standards (latest version applies)

Canadian General Standards Board. Microfilm and Electronic Images as Documentary Evidence CAN/CGSB72.11-93.

American National Standards Institute/Association for Information and Image Management (ANSI/AIIM):

MS23-Practice for Operational Procedures/Inspection and Quality Control of First- Generation, Silver Microfilm of Documents

MS35 - Recommended Practice for the requirements and characteristics of original documents that may be microfilmed

MS42 - Recommended practice for the expungement, deletion, correction or amendment of records on microforms

MS44 - Recommended Practice for Quality Control of image scanners

MS52 - Recommended practice for requirements and characteristics of original documents intended for optical scanning.

Micrographics

Micrographics is a process whereby microimages of source records are printed to photographic film. Formats include roll film in sizes such as 16mm, 35mm (microfilm) or transparent sheet of film (microfiche) with microimages in a grid pattern. Source records may be paper or electronic in form.

Responsibilities of the office

  • arranges for the preparation of a records retention schedule for the records series, if one does not exist by contacting UTARMS
  • arranges for training with UTARMS in preparing a project plan in compliance with published standards
  • undertakes project development, including: (1) preparing the job specifications; (2) specifying the copy requirements including the production of microfilm if records are permanent or paper record is to be destroyed; (3) preparing the records for copying; (4) preparing Declarations (and possibly other targets) and (5) examining the returned microfilm and testing for quality assurance
  • pays all costs

Responsibilities of the imaging vendor

  • complies with applicable published standards
  • cost and operation of all phases of document and microform transfer and delivery.
  • maintains order of records

Responsibilities of UTARMS

  • determines final disposition of the records before filming
  • stores master negatives off-site after assessing compliance with quality assurance
  • reviews and revises policies and procedures
  • provides training and consultation

Responsibilities of the Purchasing Department

  • provides billing arrangements
  • reviews charges of the service bureau
  • responds to billing and service questions

Electronic Images

"Document imaging is the electronic capture, storage, management, communication and retrieval of documents that have been converted from paper to a digitised form.” Scanners convert paper documents to electronic form by taking a picture of each page. The electronic image is composed of dot-like picture elements, or pixels, representing various shades of black and white or colour. Thus the reproduction cannot be searched or manipulated. Converting an image to a computer-readable text representation of the page uses a technology called optical character recognition (OCR) . This process is provided in software as a post-process to scanning; it is not a function of the scanner itself.

The life expectancy of electronic storage media has not been determined. However, it is clear that hardware and software obsolescence can quickly render electronic images inaccessible unless the images are regularly migrated to upgraded hardware and software technologies. The costs of this type of migration can be substantial. Consequently, national standards like Microfilm and Electronic Images as Documentary Evidence recommend that electronic images be written to a secure medium such as microfilm for long term storage.

Responsibilities of the office

  • arranges for the preparation of a records retention schedule for the records series if one does not exist by contacting UTARMS
  • arranges for training with UTARMS in preparing a project plan
  • develops project in compliance with published standards link to published standards, including: (1) preparing the job specifications, including indexing requirements; (2) specifying the copy requirements; (3) preparing the records for copying; (4) preparing Declarations (and possibly other targets) (5) examining the sample test electronic file and testing for quality assurance
  • examines completed electronic file for quality assurance
  • pays all costs

Responsibilities of the imaging vendor

  • complies with the applicable published standards
  • cost and operation of all phases of document transfer and delivery
  • maintains order of paper records
  • conducts sample test of records to be scanned
  • produces and delivers electronic files, including applicable software for indexing

Responsibilities of UTARMS

  • determines final disposition of the records before imaging
  • stores master negatives of microfilm as applicable
  • reviews and revises policies and procedures
  • provides training and consultation

Responsibilities of the Purchasing Department

  • provides billing arrangements
  • reviews charges of the service bureau
  • responds to billing and service questions

Table 1 Comparison of Micrographics and Electronic Imaging Technologies

Microforms Digital/electronic images
human eye readable machine readable; ‘dumb’ files cannot be searched or manipulated
high photographic resolution ‘electronic photographs’ scanned from original documents
adaptable to wide variety of sizes of original limited to certain size of original (depending on scanner)
well-defined preservation standards accepted nationally and internationally preservation standards not available
legally accepted substitute for paper record acceptance as substitute for paper record may be questioned in court of law
inexpensive per unit cost expensive per unit cost (as compared to original)
relatively slow access to information quick access to information