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Digitization Of Photographic Materials

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Digitization and Storage Solutions for Photographic Materials

The proliferation of photographic materials in Eastern Iowa businesses and industries highlights their value as visual representations of historical events, marketing campaigns, research and development projects, and more. Such materials necessitate inclusion in records management plans to ensure their preservation, accessibility, and efficient utilization. In this context, digitization emerges as a key strategy, with professional scanning and records management companies like ADS3 playing a crucial role.

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Locals Rely on Photos

Some businesses, organizations, and local government agencies based in cities like Iowa City, Muscatine, Davenport, and Marion, renowned for their rich histories, rely on photos to document key milestones, how the landscape of the area has changed, and the role their business has played in relation to their community, photos of employees past and present, facility improvements and expansions, and significant events their organization has been a part of. These photos, whether in print, negative, or slide formats, serve as valuable historical records, showcasing the evolution of businesses over time; however, storing the physical copies of the prints or films improperly puts those snapshots of a particular moment in time at risk. Storing the photos in an environmentally stable environment with an offsite storage company like ADS3 and scanning the photos for use is often the most prudent strategy for these companies. With secure offsite storage and digitization, organizations mitigate the risk of the imagery being lost, reclaim valuable office space, and improve the accessibility to the pictures. It also gives the organization more options to repurpose the imagery for promotional purposes and marketing strategies.

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Businesses situated near popular tourist destinations like the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, the Amana Colonies, or the scenic Mississippi River in Dubuque recognize the power of photographs in marketing and promotion. These visual assets capture captivating images of products, services, or picturesque settings, enabling effective engagement with target audiences. As part of the businesses’ records strategy, the photos can serve as reference materials for current and future employees when developing new marketing strategies, promoting anniversaries and events, and supporting new programs. Scanning the photographs, slides, and negatives for access improves accessibility, and the digital format allows the images to be repurposed for printing and promotional imagery across multiple social media, websites, and digital advertising channels.

Eastern Iowa’s higher educational institutions and industrial hubs along the I-80 and the I-380 corridor rely heavily on research and development activities. Photographic materials are utilized to document experiments, prototypes, and test results, and the photo negatives are usually a part of the company’s records and document management strategies. Digitizing these visuals greatly enhances the accessibility of the information, contributing to the dissemination of knowledge, collaboration, and innovation.

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Key Reasons

The key reasons a business should take its photos, slides, and negatives into consideration when developing or refining its records management policies, practices, and facility management plans include preserving the original material for historical or compliance purposes, saving both money and space, reallocating resources to key business objectives, increasing accessibility to the imagery, and easing discovery of content contained in the photographic materials.

  • Preservation & Accessibility
  • Space Optimization & Cost Efficiency
  • Enhanced Search & Retrieval

Preservation & Accessibility

Physical photographic materials are susceptible to damage, loss, or deterioration if stored improperly. Storing them securely offsite in a humidity and temperature-controlled facility and then digitizing them ensures their preservation and facilitates easy access, irrespective of physical location or time. For example, a business located near the iconic Amana Colonies uses a hybrid approach to preserving its collection of wide-format photo negatives in the vault of a locally owned and operated records management center to preserve them. They digitize select negatives as the need arises to share or for use in promotional materials and media.

Space Optimization & Cost Efficiency

By selectively storing certain photos of significance for preservation purposes and digitizing the company’s entire photographic collection, organizations can optimize physical space, reducing storage costs associated with housing large collections of photographs without losing access to them for use now or in the future. An example of an Iowa-based volunteer-driven non-profit in Monticello holds a large collection of photo negatives, prints, slides, microfilm, and microfiche. Their collection had outgrown the space they are occupying, and due to the limited budget, moving to a large space was cost-prohibitive given the cost and limited availability of office or mixed-usage property in the area. Through grant funding, they were able to digitize the collection to allow for access and store the photographic materials elsewhere. The impact on their monthly operating budget was insignificant as the cost of storing the photos with a records management company was less than 11% of the rent increase for a new space.

Enhanced Search & Retrieval

Professional scanning and records management companies like AdvantageDS3 employ advanced indexing and tagging techniques to facilitate easy search and retrieval of digitized photographic materials and improve collaboration across multiple locations without needing access to the physical originals. For instance, a company based just outside Cedar Falls with staff that works remotely across the state relies on photographs documenting inspections related to the specialized equipment they install and maintain for the agricultural industry. The company must supply annual reports that include photographs of the construction and placement in relation to the land and environmental impact. These photos must be retained for no less than ten years per industry-specific regulations. As part of its compliance policy and disaster planning strategy, they have elected to store them in a secure, fireproof vault in a records management facility 60 miles from its headquarters. Their inspectors and installers can quickly access specific images from its digitized archives from anywhere, at any time, thereby saving time and enhancing operational efficiency.

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