Document Imaging Services

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The leaps-and-bounds advances that technology has made over the last 10 years or so mean that document imaging services today are far removed from the photocopy machines and microfiche readers that baby boomers grew up with. Organization after organization is taking steps to migrate from a paper-based system to electronic record keeping and digital information systems. The goals are efficiency, cost savings, and improved customer and client services.

Document Imaging Services in a Nutshell

Traditional paper documents are only one form of record to be converted. Document imaging services include scanning microfiche, microfilm, aperture cards, blueprints, mylars, slides, and transparencies. Rare documents--that is, old books, delicate manuscripts, fragile artwork--are a particular specialty requiring delicate handling.

The first step to all this, of course, is planning, not just the conversion but subsequent use of the documents. Action begins with the actual conversion process--getting paper records into digital format onto the computer system. Comprehensive document imaging services go beyond that, however, to include developing a plan for ongoing access to, sharing of, and storing of that information. This ready access to multiple users in multiple locations is perhaps the single most significant advantage of digital systems over paper systems.

But how do you make information so accessible? How does an electronic filing system differ from rows of metal cabinets full of neatly filed yellowing paper and slowly fading ink? The answer is metadata indexing. Metadata defines--to the computer programming engine that distributes the data--the attributes and content of a document. We use the word "document" loosely, because it might be text, a photograph, artwork, a manuscript, or a combination of these.

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