Make sure that your effort will not be wasted – An experience to share from a past project

In order to manage the collections efficiently, an institution took the initiative to catalogue its collections digitally a few years ago. Software was purchased for recording the collections that has a size of two thousand items. Many hard works and effort were put into data entry of the two thousand items. At the same time, many of the items were scanned using scanner.

A few years later…..

…..they decided to revise the collections cataloguing process and DIW was honoured to help in the project.

A new collections management software was chosen. It was configured for fulfilling the collections management requirements. At the same time the workflow was made simple for the users.

Naturally, the most important thing to do was to transfer all the previously entered data and scanned digital images from the old software to the new software.

But….. we discovered that the old software did not have the capability of exporting the data. That is, the data was locked to its own proprietary database. The only way to transfer the data was to copy and paste them one by one! Certainly, this was too much of a hassle.

We also discovered that the scanned digital images were created at a quality that was alright for viewing on computer screen but not suitable for quality printing.

The result? All data of the two thousand items were entered again. The old digital images were abandoned and items were re-scanned or photographed again. About four months were taken to complete the data entry and scanning/photographing processes.

Lessons learnt:

  • Do not just focus on the software
  • Have an overall sense of where the imaging technology is heading to
  • Plan the database system with the future organisation’s development in mind

These apply to how you mange your personal digital images too!

Due to strong marketing campaign, certain software may appeal to you because it has a lot of wonderful features. For e.g. it may allow you to save the images in a special file format, so that the images are preserved in best quality. Or It may allow you to edit the images (like cropping, adjust colour, brightness, etc) but able to be recovered to the original in future. All these images and settings are not saved in the standard way. Hence, you should consider the risk of losing all your effort if the software or the special formats are abandoned in the future.