Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope journal

Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope journal
23 August 2011

In June 2011, the Digitisation and Photography Branch (DAP) undertook a new type of project, the capture of the Australian home companion and Band of hope, a mid 19th century journal. What made this different was that it was our first attempt at in-house journal digitisation which involved the capture of thousands rather than hundreds of pages. The journal was text based (no illustrations) and consisted of 6 volumes totalling 2,788 pages. The digitisation process including capture and processing took 124.75 hours of staff time which amounts to 2.7 minutes per page. As DAP was not set up for this high throughput process, it was regarded as an exercise in how available infrastructure could be used and to test our capacity for in-house journal digitisation. The work was captured using the Phase One P65+ camera using Capture One software. The camera was dedicated for this purpose so that settings did not require adjustment. The item was captured as a double page spread and the images split into individual pages during the cropping process. Not surprisingly, the capture process revealed some unexpected issues. A major issue was with the process of cropping itself. Using the Capture One software, cropping and processing time were around 2.5 times the capture time. Cropping a large number of images in a relatively short amount of time is problematic as it is highly mouse intensive, which can result in overuse injuries. Staff began exhibiting overuse symptoms early in the process.  An Occupational Therapist was asked to observe the capture workflows and as a result, a maximum 2-3 hour cropping time per day was allocated to each person. If DAP undertakes further in-house journal digitisation projects other cropping software and methods such as automatic cropping  will be considered to minimise exposure to mouse intensive activities.

DAP staff member Kerry Ball preparing to capture a volume of Australian home companion with the Phase One P65+ camera.

DAP staff member Kerry Ball preparing to capture a volume of Australian home companion with the Phase One P65+ camera.

The workstation setup was vitally important. A workstation with a motorised height adjustor was installed so that individual preferences for sitting, then standing, or standing constantly during the capture process were accommodated. The workstation and camera were set up to minimise twisting and turning and adjustable lighting was installed for use during image processing. This was also our first project in collaboration with the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program (ANDP) team. Once the images were captured by DAP staff, they were uploaded to the Newspaper Content Manager (NCM) in preparation for the OCR process, which will make the text searchable via Trove. DAP staff normally capture items such as pictures or maps which do not require OCR treatment. At the time of writing this blog entry, content from the Australian home companion and Band of hope image files have been quality assured and have had Page and Issue Metadata added. These batches will be sent to an OCR contractor for processing this financial year. In the meantime, DAP have used this experience to streamline and document the capture process so that we can be prepared for similar activities in the future. Here’s a sample of what will be available on Trove soon.

Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope sample

Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope sample