“FADGI is a collaborative effort started in 2007 by federal agencies to articulate common sustainable practices and guidelines for digitized and born digital historical, archival and cultural content.”
– Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative
FADGI, standing for Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative, is more than just a standard for taking photos. It’s a way of making certain that preservation images will be intuitively perceived, accurate to source material, and accessible to researchers all over the world.
How does one reach FADGI compliance? The guidelines recommend that not only will images be digitized according to appropriate parameters and measured against a consistent quality assurance mechanism, but also that the environment in which digitization is completed is conducive for the best performance of imaging, and that all employees will have been trained in the responsible handling of historic artifacts.
Boy, that was a sentence to put together. And, it’s a tall order.
Effective FADGI digitization requires so many elements to be top-notch that Backstage employs experts to make certain we’re operating above standard. Let’s take apart the vernacular and look at how we make that all possible.
Preservation-class imaging starts with the tools you use. Cameras need to be calibrated before every shift and before every new project, and Backstage does this by using the programs recommended by FADGI. Golden Thread is a software that verifies the camera is digitizing with the correct resolution and color fidelity. Altogether, our software makes our studio excellent for cultural heritage capture.
Our studio fits over twenty cameras capable of digitizing up to FADGI 4-star – even when we work on-site, outside of Backstage offices. They can capture up to 150 MP and they’re aided by our custom cradles. The cool thing? We build and design those cradles in-house, so they are a perfect fit for what we do and a perfect fit for the materials we work with day to day.
In the 2nd Edition FADGI guidelines document, there’s an example of what a compliant workflow and environment might look like. Well, guess what? What you see there is what you get here – a replica of the recommended workflow and working conditions of a FADGI compliant digitization department. Backstage has expanded its Bethlehem office to accommodate the growing need for space on multiple occasions, and each time the studio was built or remodeled to be exactly what we needed. There’s space enough for every camera to have its own cubicle and the space is climate controlled. It’s clean, cleaned regularly, and there are no windows in the studio. Everything is painted to absorb light bleed and reduce the glare from neighboring lighting set ups between stations, with the ceilings painted black and the walls a FADGI compliant grey. The most recent expansion last year, particularly, involved a complete clean-up and re-paint to keep everything fresh and tidy.
My background is in Metadata – so, when I sat down with Mike, one of our technical services leads, to talk about Digitization, I must admit: I was a little overwhelmed. Not just anyone can sit down to a camera and say, “Alright, preservation-standard imaging. It’s going to be seen for generations to come, and that all comes down to me right now. Let’s go!” It takes world-class technicians to pull together the different pieces of FADGI compliance, and we’re proud of our team that does so with such aplomb. All technicians, regardless of their background, are trained on material handling, camera calibration (with the assistance of our technical service leads), and they receive ongoing training throughout their career on new materials handling and equipment that comes through.
The Future of Digitization
Ahead of the NARA requirements for digitized documentation in 2023, or later depending on if initiative M-19-21 is pushed back, we are also anticipating the release of FADGI 3rd edition. Our team has already been looking into the proposed revisions and experimenting with the new targets.
We are a GSA MAS contract company with solutions for collection processing and digitization, and this is due to our devotion to quality services. For more information on how we can become a part of your workflow, please call us at 1.800.288.1265, visit us online at www.bslw.com, or send an email to moc.wlsb@ofni.