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Creating a Digitization Infrastructure

Otari open reel player

An Otari open reel player that will be integrated into the audio digitization station.

The Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting Department specializes in digitizing textual, paper-based, photographic, audio, and moving image UMD Libraries materials for use by patrons and inclusion into UMD Libraries Digital Collections. These requests and projects are digitized either in the Libraries in-house Digitization Center or through vendors.

Over the past year, we have been expanding our capacity to digitize more types of formats in the Libraries Digitization Center. In fall 2012, Henry Borchers started to create the first preservation-level audio digitization station for ¼” audio open reel tape. Over the next few months, he added the cassette tape and ADAT formats, based on the needs of the WMUC Digitization Project. We later added DAT and are working to add LP digitization capacity to better meet the needs of digitization requests. We will be aiming to add additional legacy machines for these formats to allow for parallel digitization (digitizing more than one item of the same format on the same computer), as the Libraries’ needs increases.

With significant progress made on the audio digitization stations, we have shifted our focus to developing video digitization and conversion stations. While the audio digitization stations were developed around a specific project, the video digitization stations will be developed over a year on an ambitious schedule; the targeted formats were determined by surveying collection manager needs and priorities, and what equipment is readily available. Over the past month, Borchers has been researching and experimenting the first of at least five families of video formats–DVCam and MiniDV—with the goal that this station will be online by the end of October. Other upcoming formats will include VHS/S-VHS, U-Matic/U-MaticSP, Betacam/BetacamSP/Betamax, and Digital Betacam, with the potential inclusion of Video8/Hi8 and Laserdisc.

Digitizing additional formats is more complex than testing, calibrating, and plugging in a few more machines—it requires setting and testing new digitization procedures, as well as researching and establishing internal technical and metadata standards. Some of these processes will be documented in future posts.

Audio Digitization Station Configuration

Audio Digitization Station Configuration

About robincpike

Robin Pike is the Manager, Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting at the University of Maryland Libraries. Her interests include digitization standards and workflows and preserving audiovisual materials.

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