Thursday, January 19, 2006

Digitization, document imaging or scanning?

In talking to people about the Digitization Expo scheduled for May 24 in Buffalo, I've found that some groups don't use the word "digitization." I guess this should not be a surprise. It turns out that local governments don't talk about doing digitization programs, but about doing document imaging as part of their records management. Likely the same holds true in many corporations, because they are dealing with documents, not with photographs, ephemera, etc.

Over lunch yesterday, a colleague and I talked about this and realized that when talk about digitization to a group that includes people from non-library backgrounds, we need to include the phrase "document imaging" as well as the word "scanning." Yes, digitization is much more than just scanning, but often those just beginning to think about this topic, think about scanning.

Just as we use various words to describe this thing called digitization (which -- by the way -- half of the world cannot pronounce correctly), we also need to use the words "project" and "program." Just because we used to the phrase, we talk about "digitization projects," but a project is a short-term thing and often a one-time event. What we want people to develop instead are "digitization programs" where digitization is part of what the organization does long-term in support of its mission.

I've already been using the term "digitization program" and talking about the distinction between a program and a project. Now I need to add in those different terms like "document scanning" when I talk to non-librarians, since those phrases will catch their interest. As we learn -- and forget -- we need to use the words that make sense to our audience.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Though this article is a bit old, I think that the information in it is still important. People really should start looking into going paperless by scanning their documents. is a great place to store all your scanned images. It's online, so you can access your files anywhere!