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Project Planning: Rate of Digitization

Staff in the Hornbake Digitization Center have been carefully tracking digitization statistics for several years. Over the last two years, I have used and expanded the collection of statistics so we can calculate an average rate and cost of digitization, including preparation, digitization, metadata creation, and ingest for our two major format types: “image” (including still images and text) and “audio.” My overall goal is to use these statistics to plan an annual, complete-able queue of projects for the level of staffing we can provide.

In January 2014, we digitized 896 images. Knowing the amount of digitized assets in one month is helpful, but that alone cannot determine a rate of digitization, which is needed to plan projects. Dividing the total number of assets created by hours worked during that period, and then dividing the average hourly student salary by the above total results in the cost of digitization. Knowing 8 students digitized and created metadata for 896 images in 190 hours at $10/hour is infinitely more helpful when planning digitization projects and requesting staffing for the next fiscal year. Using established rates, we can:

  • Calculate the hours needed to complete specific digitization projects
  • Create an in-house project timeline for all proposed projects in one year
  • Request enough student hours (and money) to complete the list of proposed projects
  • Provide guidance to donors who wish to provide money for in-house digitization of specific materials

For example, a librarian has proposed that we digitize 50 pamphlets at 15 pages each. We can estimate that it would take our students about 160 hours to complete the project at our current rate of digitization. From there, we can estimate that if we assign the project to one student who works 20 hours a week, that the project will be completed in approximately 8 weeks. If the project is a greater priority, we can assign it to more than one student for more than 20 hours per week.

Now that we have well-established rates, over the next several months, as I solidify fiscal year 2015 projects, I will be able to compile a projected production timeline for all in-house projects in a queue, considering projects not solely in the number of pages or hours of audio, but in in the hours it will take to digitize them.

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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