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Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations

Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations Jody Butterworth, Andrew Pearson, Patrick Sutherland and Adam Farquhar (eds)
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-473-2 £14.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78374-474-9 £26.95
PDF ISBN: 978-1-78374-475-6 £0.00
epub ISBN: 978-1-78374-476-3 £0.00
mobi ISBN: 978-1-78374-477-0 £0.00
XML ISBN: 978-1-78374-613-2 £0.00

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The authors share first-hand experiences of digitisation in a wide variety of environments. This book contains invaluable practical guidance on how to expect the unexpected and deliver quality results in challenging situations.
—Andreas Nef, Technical Lead, Docuteam GmbH and Digital Archive Consultant supporting Swisspeace and others in countries including Sierra Leone, Tunisia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands

This is a must-read how-to guide if you are planning to embark on a scholarly digitisation project. Tailored to the specifications of the British Library’s EAP (Endangered Archives Programme) projects, it is full of sound, practical advice about planning and carrying out a successful digitisation project in potentially challenging conditions.
From establishing the scope of the project, via practical considerations about equipment, work routines, staffing, and negotiating local politics, to backing up your data and successfully completing your work, Remote Capture walks you through every stage. Bursting with helpful hints, advice and experiences from people who have completed projects everywhere around the globe from Latin America to Africa to Asia, this book offers a taste of the challenges you might encounter and the best ways to find solutions.
With a particular focus on the process of digitisation, whether using a camera or a scanner, Remote Capture is invaluable reading for anybody considering such a project. It will be particularly useful to those who apply for an EAP grant, but the advice in these pages is necessary for anyone wondering how to go about digitising an archive.

Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations
Jody Butterworth, Andrew Pearson, Patrick Sutherland and Adam Farquhar | April 2018
192 | 48 colour illustrations | 6.14'' x 9.21'' (156 x 234 mm)
Open Field Guides Series, vol. 1 | ISSN: 2514-2496 (Print); 2514 250X (Online)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783744732
ISBN Hardback: 9781783744749
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783744756
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783744763
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783744770
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783746132
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0138
Subject codes: BIC: AJG (Photographic equipment and techniques), GM (Museology and heritage studies), GP (Reference, information and interdisciplinary subjects); BISAC: SOC019000 (SOCIAL SCIENCE / Methodology), PHO007000 (PHOTOGRAPHY / Techniques / Equipment), SOC024000 (SOCIAL SCIENCE / Research), REF020000 (REFERENCE / Research); OCLC Number: 1037803538.

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List of figures
List of tables

A note on the text boxes
Brands and manufacturers
Digital resources


1. Planning the project
Project design
Calculating the budget

2. Equipment and skills for digitising in the field
Cameras and scanners
The Digital SLR camera: a general introduction
DSLRs: principles and settings
Tripods, copy stands and remote controls
Lighting and flash
Copying glass plate negatives and transparencies
Essential equipment and skills
Practical advice for photography in the field
Hard drives and data management

3. Image standards
Examples of good and bad images

4. Collection care and document handling
General considerations for safe handling of library material
Dirty and dusty material
Pictures and glass plate negatives
Loose-leaf items
Bound items

5. A workflow for digitisation
Creation of the digital images
Renaming and organising the digital images
Developing and exporting the digital images
Backing up
Virus checking
Cataloguing/creation of metadata

6. On the ground
Before departure
Local liaison and partnerships
Managing expectations
Staff and their management
Outreach and publicity


Further resources
Useful downloads
Other reading


Digital Appendices (available online at https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0138.11)
Digital Appendix 1. Practical Methods for Digitisation
Digital Appendix 2. Using Electronic Flash
Digital Appendix 3. Digitisation Process Notes
Digital Appendix 4. Costed Equipment List

Jody Butterworth
attended the International School of Geneva with students from 80 different countries and it is very probably this happy experience that has shaped her interests. She has spent seven years living and working across Asia and whilst in Mongolia she became inspired to pursue a career in cultural heritage. Jody became EAP Curator in 2012 and she considers it an incredibly rewarding job.

Adam Farquhar directs the Endangered Archives Programme. He is also Head of Digital Scholarship at the British Library, where he and his team focus on establishing services for researchers that take full advantage of the possibilities presented by digital collections and data across all formats and subjects. He has led several major research efforts and established the digital preservation and data programmes at the British Library. He was a founding member of the International Image Interoperability (IIIF) Consortium executive committee; founding President of DataCite; and founding President of the Open Preservation Foundation. He has been responsible for the Library’s maps, newspaper, photographic, audio and moving image collections. Before joining the Library, he was the knowledge management architect for Schlumberger and research scientist at the Stanford University Knowledge Systems Laboratory.

Elizabeth Hunter joined the British Library Photographic Studio in 1988, which at the time was based at the British Museum and involved studio and location photography as well as black-and-white film processing. When the British Library moved to its current location in 1998, Elizabeth used the Library’s first DSLR camera to photograph the Queen officially open the new building. Elizabeth keeps up to date with the latest developments and is currently working on 360VR and 3D photography.

Flavio Marzo
was born in Susa near Turin in Italy. He now lives in London where he has been working for the British Library since 2005 and became an ICON accredited conservator in 2012. He previously worked in prominent institutions such as the Vatican Library and the libraries of The Queen’s and Magdalen Colleges in Oxford, and also as private conservator/restorer in the Benedictine Monastery of Novalesa in Italy. He has also been involved in several conservation projects in Italy, Greece and Egypt as conservator, consultant and teacher. In 2012, Flavio was appointed Conservation Studio Manager for the Qatar Digitisation Project within the British Library/Qatar Foundation partnership. He is also the author of a number of articles published in conservation journals.

Andrew Pearson
is a Senior Heritage Consultant with AECOM. He also holds Research Associate status at Brunel University. His doctoral and early-career research focused on Roman Britain, while his current research addresses the historical archaeology of the Atlantic slave trade, with particular reference to the island of St Helena and the Anglophone Caribbean. His projects for the Endangered Archives Programme comprise EAP524 (St Helena), EAP596 (Anguilla), EAP688 and EAP1013 (both St Vincent) and EAP794 (Nevis).

Patrick Sutherland
is an independent photographer and former Professor of Documentary Photography at the University of the Arts London. For over two decades Patrick has been documenting the culturally Tibetan communities of the Spiti Valley in North India. The project has led to numerous exhibitions and two books: Spiti and Disciples of a Crazy Saint. The latter concerns the Buchen, travelling lay religious theatre performers, exorcists, musicians and healers unique to Spiti, whose material culture is the focus of Sutherland’s two Endangered Archive Programme grants, EAP548 and EAP749.

A set of Digital Appendices for this book are available online at the British Library website: https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0138.11

Digital Appendix 1. Practical Methods for Digitisation
Digital Appendix 2. Using Electronic Flash
Digital Appendix 3. Digitisation Process Notes
Digital Appendix 4. Costed Equipment List

These resources will be updated by the British Library as appropriate.