Digitization of old manuscripts
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Digitization of Old Manuscripts Case study

Project: Digitization of old manuscripts for an australian historical research institute


Client background

Preservation of old manuscripts is a priority for any government. Australia’s Historical Research Institute is one such organization which is trying to safeguard archaic scripts from falling prey to the blight of time. The institution was in possession of some rare manuscripts carrying insightful information about the time when the first European settlers started setting foot on this vast island. The manuscripts had to be digitized but the challenge was that OCR technique alone was not enough to pull off this arduous task. The scripts were replete with archaic fonts and extinct typefaces which the OCR device intermittently failed to recognize. This was severely compromising the quality of digitized outcome. The institution posed its trust on the efficiency of MAP SYSTEMS to get this challenging task of digitizing historical documents successfully carried out within low turnaround.


Requirements of the project

Our experienced team scrutinized the manuscripts carefully to chalk out the accurate strategy that would yield superlative result. The project required digitization and conversion of delicate manuscripts into XML format. There were a number of voluminous books and our objective was to send across at least 500 pages per fortnight.


Challenges faced

MAP SYSTEMS was communicated earlier by the institution about the efficacy of OCR software tools owing to the presence of a large variety of archaic fonts, antiquated typefaces, and embellished layouts. Despite this roadblock, the client wanted an extremely high degree of accuracy almost 99.9% and there was no scope for any discrepancies. The obviating of OCR devices compelled us to choose another potent means to secure the optimum accuracy standards. Based on our experience, it deemed suitable to us to use the double keying method for spectacular results.


The client during its bid to get the manuscripts digitized had prepared its own DTD (Document Type Definition which contains the structure and the attributes as well as legal elements of the final converted XML). Our team has to assiduously adhere to the DTD entrusted to us by the institution. Comprehensive details were present regarding the typography in which each manuscript has to be converted. We had to handle the document as per the specific dictates of the client. All the relevant files, manuscripts’ proposed format, and scans were handed over to us by institution’s reps. After scanning old documents and complete digitization, they had to be delivered in bitmap or grey scale formats. 400-500 dpi was to be the ideal resolution for finalized scanned documents.


Our Solution

Initially, we had to match the work with the proficiency of our team members. With due diligence, we went through the track records of professionals on our team and then chose a handful of competent digital artists who had previously worked on such prestigious projects. A Project Manager was assigned to ensure top notch quality and coordination among various aspects.


Our team was able to develop its own unique XML workflow which borrowed stellar ideas from the DTD shared by client. This led us to expeditiously and correctly transform the manuscripts into XML format. We adhered to the p5 standards of TEI or Text Encoding Initiative. The project was completed within the timeline scheduled by client and accuracy level was 99.9%. The XML generated was attuned for ease of publication on multiple channels. The content was rendered responsive for posting on online and mobile platforms and is completely searchable.


The institution’s work was completed at a fraction of the budget that was quoted by other agencies. The double keying method also enabled us to adhere to the best features of client’s DTD for optimal results. The client was very happy.


MAP SYSTEMS offers impeccable document scanning services and has the resource base, infrastructural capacity and competent manpower to render all digitization activities for you. Entrust us with your work now!!


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