Digitization Policy

In this two-stage project, digitization and metadata are largely handled in the first stage.


It is expected that some material groupings will be more quickly discerned than others. Therefore, the entire process of file creation and management will begin with an initial, explorative survey of collections. The project manager and archives assistant will seek and identify all documents that have addresses or other location information marked or otherwise associated. To the extent that relationships between materials can be identified, associated materials will be bundled and clearly labeled. At the same time, some individual documents that are considered compelling will also be identified.


A three-person selection committee consisting of the project director, subject expert, and associate collections director will assess and select materials for digitization. This decision will be made on a combination of factors, including visual quality of the materials, level of historical value, relationship to other documents, availability of location data, connection to historical events, and coverage. Materials that are thought to have good potential to make effective contributions are designated for scanning. Materials that are not thought to have such potential, are designated for re-filing. Materials that are considered to have some potential are set aside for additional research.


Archival assistants and interns will be trained to scan and file documents. The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) owns two professional-grade, flatbed scanners that can be used for the purposes of this project. All documents will be initially scanned for preservation purposes at high resolution (uncompressed TIFF format, 24-bit color, 800-900 dpi) to maximize clarity, fidelity and flexibility. Assistants and interns will also be trained to assign file names according to a consistent format: Type_Name_ ItemNumber (e.g., ChinOn_Lease_002). Because of the clustering approach being employed, associated files will be stored in folders labeled by relational ID such as street address or Name_birthdate (will vary from group to group).


Indefinite storage space will be provided on NYU library servers since this project is being undertaken by a research institute and involves a senior faculty member. Although the servers cannot be used to host software or to handle any processing, the availability of secure, longterm storage is reassuring.


When digitized images have been finalized by the selection committee, assistants and interns will be asked to convert the uncompressed TIFF files to a smaller, lower quality format that can be handled easily by mobile phone and transmitted with reasonable speed via wireless internet: lossy 'JPEG' files of no more than 200 dpi in resolution and 400 KB in size. Although 200 dpi might seem low for regular objects, images will not need to be enlarged very much beyond the size of a smartphone, and 200 dpi appears very clear on the typical smartphone screen. An additional 'thumbnail'-sized version will be scanned to be used when 'pinned' on maps.


As files are uploaded to a file management system, metadata will be added by assistants and interns. Particular attention will be paid to ensuring that associated materials all share identical metadata values in the 'Relation' fields (i.e., GIS coordinates or name_birthdate).

Quality Control

The project manager will periodically check the quality of metadata cataloging as well as digitizing quality. If necessary, assistants and interns will be retrained and problematic batches will be re-done.

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