Digitalization consists in transforming analogue contents into digital contents and is used, in particular, to secure valuable archive collections in digital form and to make available the documents on-line. Owing to digitalization, also original archive materials may be analysed on the basis of high-quality digital copies, enabling to notice details which are not detectable by human senses while examining originals.
Having been transformed from the analogue into the digital form, a content carrier may be safely stored in an archive warehouse without being unnecessarily interfered with by anyone, and the contents presented in the digital form may gain a new life, being widely published by the archives and processed by the users. But first things first. Digitalization is a multifaceted process that needs to be kept in order. Digitalization consists of the following stages:
Professional digitalization process requires specialist equipment and knowledge of usually unrelated fields, somewhere at the crossroads of information science and IT. We digitalize photographs, files, iconography, microfilms, sound recordings and films.
Immediately before copying a collection of archive materials, make sure that it is ordered and described in the archive information system, the exception being photographic materials, which are described after copying because more details are visible on high-quality scans than on the originals. Also, films and sound recordings may be described after copying, being frequently the only way to read the contents of the original.
Conservator’s assessment and preparation
Archive materials to be copied are subject to our assessment on whether they may be processed by digitalization devices, whether the physical condition of the original enables reaching the complete contents and whether copying will not worsen its condition. If not, the archive materials are subject to specialist treatment by a conservator.
Byte, resolution, sampling, colour depth, recording format, colour profile are only some terms used when copying archive materials. Copying is made using the best technologies and equipment. The digital representations that we produce are ideal images of the original. Such high-quality copies are called model copies, which are attached to the archive information system immediately after copying. Therefore, it is so important for the digitalized archive materials to be ordered and have metadata.
Lets us check whether everything was performed as assumed. We check whether model copies were produced according to the art and whether their attachment to metadata is correct.
When all the above stages of the digitalization process are closed, we start to provide access to archive materials in digital form in szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl service. We prepare copies in a different version than the model copies, which are inviolable. In our services, we provide access to lighter usable copies prepared on the basis of high-quality copies in order for the service to operate quickly and without interruption. However, it must be borne in mind that not all copies produced by us are made available. The contents of some of them may infringe the law. In such case, the copies are forwarded directly to the Central Digital Repository of the State Archives.
All model copies are secured in the Central Digital Repository of the State Archives, which is an advanced complex of devices to maintain the digital version of the archives. The copies are ordered and available here in case that a usable copy needs to be produced or if they need to replace the original in the case of its permanent loss.
We digitalize 7 million documents a year in the National Digital Archives, including our resources and resources of the state archives from across Poland. Also, model copies in digitalization laboratories of the state archives are produced. The copies are then forwarded to us to be made available and secured in the Central Digital Repository of the State Archives. We also receive model copies from cultural institutions which digitalize archive materials from non-state archive resources.