Open Access to Hidden Collections


Perhaps you’re just starting to build a digital repository, exploring recommendations for resolution, bit depth, and file format. Maybe you have digitization workflows already established, but you need additional technology, staff time, on-site services, or expertise to convert a particular collection.

At Backstage, we tailor our services to fit your needs. Whatever level of assistance you’re looking for in a digitization partner, we can work with you to accomplish your goals.

Our start-to-finish imaging and metadata options can help you through any stage of the digitization process:

  • Collection consulting
  • Condition assessment
  • Project planning
  • Material preparation
  • Digital imaging
  • Metadata creation
  • Collection organization and upload
  • Custom workplans

We Create Digital Images

Full-Service Imaging

Backstage can create digital images from nearly any type of source materials, including:

  • Bound Items:
    • Newspaper volumes
    • Magazines
    • Theses and dissertations
    • Yearbooks
    • Scrapbooks
    • Foldouts
    • Diaries or journals
    • Minutes and logbooks
  • Loose Materials:
    • Newspapers
    • Manuscripts
    • Correspondence 
    • Postcards
    • Clipping files
    • Disbound pages
  • Photographic resources:
    • Prints
    • Slides
    • Negatives
    • Glass plates
    • Microfilm rolls
    • Microfiche
    • Transparencies
  • Oversized pieces:
    • Posters
    • Maps
    • Blueprints
    • Large-format books
  • 3D objects

If you don’t see your material type on the list, let us know and we can discuss the best way to digitize your materials.


Our Process

As we receive your materials, we move them into secure storage and flag them with a barcode to track the chain of custody throughout their stay at Backstage. Our technicians are trained in the proper handling of archival materials, from storage to camera to return shipping.

We understand that you may have concerns about shipping your treasured collections, so we have options.

We can advise your staff on how to pack materials to minimize risk during transit. For many sites, we can send our dedicated Backstage van service to pick up and deliver materials. We can also pass along recommendations for art shippers or other specialized freight carriers. In situations where a collection simply cannot travel, we can come to you with our on-site digitization services.

Prior to each digital capture session, we benchmark our equipment for image quality using industry-standard tools and guidelines. In addition to calibrating our cameras and scanners, Backstage utilizes high-resolution digital monitors designed for color-critical graphic arts applications. Monitors are calibrated to meet ISO 12646 specifications. The digital studio is designed to maintain color neutrality and light levels appropriate for archival processing work.

Our scanning is always performed to the specifications agreed upon. We are also happy to make recommendations based on your materials and FADGI guidelines.

During the capture process, our digitization technicians will note any anomalies found while they are scanning. Your Project Manager is alerted to any defects or problems in your original materials and will reach out to you to determine a plan of action as needed.

Communication is an essential part of a successful collaboration. Your project manager send you a weekly update throughout your project, keeping you informed of the status of your project, next steps, and due dates. Our technicians note any anomalies found during scanning, and your project manager is alerted to any defects or problems in your original materials, so we can reach out to you to determine a plan of action when needed. If you ever have questions or concerns, we welcome you to pick up the phone or send us an email, we are always happy to discuss your project.


Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is more than just a final step—we have quality built in throughout the digitization process.

Our team understands the importance of quality, from training all our employees in material handling, to hand-placing each item for the camera, to a separate in-depth review of the image files. Quality is at the heart of our culture.

When digitizing, we perform calibration tests at the start of every shift, verifying that lenses are focused and cameras have the correct settings to create the most accurate representation of your materials. We can include these target images in your digital file delivery so you can be assured you are getting the very best quality for your digital collection.

Digital Review Quality Assurance

Our approach includes a visual inspection of the images performed by a team of technicians separate from our camera operators. The quality assurance team will review 100% of your images to ensure your files have the correct technical specifications and images are not cut off, obstructed, or out of focus. Images with errors are corrected, and items can be rescanned as needed while materials are still in process, making sure we have the best capture possible.


Digital Image Metadata

Digital files without metadata are like hidden treasures in your collection without catalog records. They may be incredible, but if no one can find them, they hardly exist at all. We have dedicated teams working at the point of image capture and in post-processing that can collect and format the metadata your system needs to make your images searchable and accessible so that you can share your treasures with the world. Metadata options can include:
  • OCR text conversion
  • Structural metadata
  • Descriptive metadata
  • Transcription
  • METS/ALTO mapping and article-level segmentation
  • Headline correction
  • EAD finding aids
  • DACS compliant metadata
  • MARC records
  • Dublin Core records
  • TEI field encoding
  • CONTENTdm collections
  • Authority control for digital collections
If you have metadata questions, or you don’t see a metadata option you need here, contact us and we can discuss your metadata needs.


FADGI and Standards

We talk a lot about FADGI, NDNP, NDSA and other digital image and metadata standards. That’s because they are important to us. We know your institution has standards that are important to you as well. As we plan your project together, we can make sure that your preferred standards are a part of your Backstage digitization project.

Because of our long-standing contracts with US federal libraries, our studios are designed to deliver FADGI 3-star and 4-star compliance. Whether your project requires strict adherence to these guidelines or not, many of the benefits of the FADGI standards carry over in the layout of our workstations and the training of our technicians.

  • FADGI (Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative):
  • NDNP (National Digital Newspaper Program)
    • NDNP is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress. The goal of this long-term effort is to develop an internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historical content.
  • NDSA (National Digital Stewardship Alliance)
    • NDSA is a consortium of more than 220 partnering organizations, including universities, professional associations, businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, hosted by the Digital Library Federation, and committed to the long-term preservation of digital information.


At Backstage, our quality is guaranteed.

Read about our lifetime guarantee.

Learn More

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