Before contacting potential contractors
Before contractors are even contacted it is a good idea to identify the following. These issues might be defined in a business case for digitisation/outsourcing:
- the drivers and benefits of digitisation
- the risks identified
- the scope, volume and type of material selected for digitisation
- the condition of the material for digitisation and whether conservation or cleaning is required prior to digitisation
- the digital formats and quality required
- stakeholder interests
- the metadata and documentation required
- ownership, copyright, privacy and digital rights management issues
- what quality control and assurance parameters need to be in place
- insurance requirements for rare or valuable materials
- financial and human resource issues, including roles/skills of staff in monitoring the digitisation process.
Before choosing the contractor
Contractors should be assessed carefully. Some questions to ask may include:
- Can you manage the range of analogue formats we need to digitise?
- Are you able to provide the required digital formats (including suitable archival formats when required)?
- Do you have experience in dealing with these materials/formats (and do you have experience in dealing with unique materials)?
- What are your transportation and materials handling procedures? Is an alternative (for rare, valuable material) to digitise on-site?
- Are you able to provide the required metadata and documentation?
- What quality control, treating and assurance measures do you provide? Do you agree to our proposed monitoring process?
- Are we able to inspect samples of your past work and contact some of your clients? (these should be inspected to determine if of sufficient quality)
- What are the costs and timeframes involved? Are we protected from paying more if costs exceed expectation? What recourse is there if the timeframes are not met?
- What backup and disaster recovery arrangements do you have?
Inclusions in the contract
Contracts should clearly articulate:
- roles and responsibilities
- costs, timeframes and expectations: including that if costs are exceeded this is borne by the contractor and recourse if timeframes are exceeded
- transportation and materials handling requirements (to prevent damage to the originals)
- the range, type and quantity of material to be digitised
- the digital formats required, including formats of preservation masters (unenhanced) and any enhanced copies or access copies required
- specifications regarding the use of compression (which, if used, should be lossless for archival records)
- additional specifications e.g. sampling, bit rate
- the testing and quality control and assurance procedures to be used by the contractor
- the agreed process of monitoring and quality control and assurance by the organisation
- the metadata and documentation requirements
- where ownership of all materials lies (e.g that ownership of originals and all copies resides with the State)
- arrangements for the return of the analogue and digital recordings to the organisation
- backup and disaster recovery arrangements.
Published January 2009