Tompkins County Public Library, providing local historic information online to the general public, started their digitization efforts around 4 years back. Now the library is well poised to provide online access to local history materials relating to Tompkins County and surrounding areas. The process is continuing and till date the library has more than 9000 boxes of documents with them for digital conversion.
A recent report highlighted this herculean effort undertaken by the authorities. Digitization, even from 2010 only, accounts for the conversion of 13 million records into electronic files. Most of the paper records maintained by the county are dated back only to 1970s and a few among the group are dated to 1817.
Apart from digitizing existing old records, the county is planning to create a new record storage center for paper documents. Building such a center would cost an estimated $6 million and the electronic conversion of existing documents will cost around $500,000.
Presently, the files are held on mirrored storage area networks, at the two data centers of the county. The next step is to improve the data security by moving the electronic records to nearby secure, climate-controlled digital storage facilities. To make this move though, they are expecting some additional funds to come in.
The clerk’s office was among the first to adopt digital forms and records. The process includes the scanning of documents to TIF (Tagged Image File Format) image format and then to an electronic file with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. However, the process of scanning and digital conversion has created some extra work for every department. Moreover, they have to perform a lot of document shredding after completion of the process.
To reduce the complexity of the process, Tompkins County has outsourced the process to a reliable document conversion company, comprising a professional team and advanced technology and tools.