Designing and implementing a digitization workflow for post-custodial initiatives at the Benson Latin American Collection, UT Austin




Bliss, David A.

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This poster will detail the book digitization workflow developed at the University of Texas at Austin's Benson Latin American Collection in Fall 2016, implemented as part of a British Library Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) grant project in Michoacan, Mexico. The project will digitize 192 books containing roughly 150,000 pages of valuable but vulnerable historical material over the course of two years.

This grant project dovetails with the Benson's commitment to post-custodial archival partnerships with organizations in Latin America and worldwide. Through these partnerships, Benson archivists provide equipment, training, and digital hosting to often under-resourced repositories to make their materials available to researchers -- without physically removing those materials from their original cultural contexts.

For this grant project, a team of historians from Michoacan, trained by the Benson team, is responsible for digitizing and describing materials. Beginning in July 2016, the Benson team worked to develop set of workflows to be implemented by the local project team. After reviewing various digitization methods and equipment set-ups, the Benson settled on a digitization workflow that uses standard DSLR camera, copystand and lights, and Adobe Lightroom to produce high-quality scans quickly and cost-effectively.

My poster will outline the Benson's EAP project and commitment to post-custodial archiving, the digitization workflow that was developed, and the lessons we learned during the build-up to (and following) its live implementation in November 2016. The poster will present the workflow developed as the Benson as an effective method of digitization at small and medium-sized institutions. The poster will also offer insight into the process and challenges of a post-custodial approach to archives, which may be new to many conference attendees.


Poster presentation for the 2017 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL).