Digital Spotlight: Digitization Cost Calculator

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Submitted by Andy Carter, ATLA Digital Projects Manager

Planning for a possible digitization project requires cost and time estimates for which there are few good models. Digitization is ubiquitous in libraries, museums, and archives in the 21st century, but due to the variance of institution type, available resources, and experience with digitization workflows, it is difficult to extrapolate metrics that can be reused. The Digital Library Federation Assessment Interest Group, recognizing the need, has been working to build and refine a digitization cost calculator.

The Digitization Cost Calculator (DCC) is designed to “make freely available a large set of data on the time it takes to perform various tasks involved in the digitization process, in order to assist organizations in digitization project planning and benchmarking.” The DCC aggregates anonymized data on aspects of a digitization workflow. This data is donated by institutions and then “the calculator normalizes each contribution so it can be combined into an average with other contributions for the same digitization process.”

The DCC website provides a three-step data entry form. You can input the number of scans for your project and the salary and benefit information for all involved staff. Then you can provide as much detail as you need for “processes to be performed” which includes dropdowns for capture device, preparation of materials, quality control, post processing, and metadata creation. After entering all relevant information, the calculator will provide time and cost estimates, and even break down those estimates by an individual task.

As explained on the site, the DCC will improve the quality of its estimates as the quantity of data it has for reference grows. Institutions are encouraged to donate data from their own digitization projects. I know that I would have benefited from such a tool over the years, and I am glad to see this need being met.

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