As it stands now, the DIGIT Department, housed on two floors in the building on the Mont des Arts, is equipped with ten specialised digitisation stations, which a team of specialised operators use to digitise all types of documents that are stored in KBR’s archives, with the exception of audio-visual documents.
The DIGIT Department has access to several book scanners. These scanners are fitted with cradles which are used to hold bound books with restricted opening angles and various formats when they are digitised. The department also has plane scanners in various dimensions that are fitted with a book cradle. These scanners are intended for the digitisation of bound books that can be opened to 180 degrees.
The cartographical collections and the posters and prints collections are digitised using a very large format plane scanner. A medium-format digital back allows coins and medals and other documents that are small in dimension to be digitised by taking several shots. Finally, a microfilm scanner is used to digitise newspapers. In addition, the DIGIT Department has several traditional studios for digital photography.
The rules and best practices that regulate how the DIGIT Department works comply in every respect with international recommendations and the general standards in the field of heritage digitisation.
In practice, the decision to choose a certain technical solution and to digitise one or other corpus depends on the type of document to be digitised, its format and state of preservation, the volumes to hand and the mandatory conditions and measures in place to protect the document.
Technical aspects of digitisation
As far as the resolution is concerned, all documents are digitised to a minimum optical resolution of 300 ppi without interpolation and at a scale of 1:1. The shots are stored in two formats and sizes: a digital master version in a TIFF format that is not compressed, and a version for viewing in JPEG format without loss of quality.
Special attention is paid to ensure the faithful colour reproduction of the images that the DIGIT Department produces. Prior to every digitisation session, quality tests are carried out to check the colour and the light, and the results are documented.
The department’s good practices follow the Metamorfoze Preservation Imaging Guidelines. The process of digitising printed works and newspapers includes systematic raw optical character recognition (OCR). Enriching the digitised object in this way guarantees better access to the information that is stored in the sources by making them available to researchers as full text.