Digital Libraries

One service provided by GSC Associates is the creation of on-line digital libraries based on material previously published in other formats. While each such library is customized to meet the unique needs of the client, the types of services we generally perform to create such a library include:

  1. conversion of material from other formats (such as paper and microfilm) into digital images;
  2. automated building of digital documents (such as e-books or web sites) to quickly access the individual digital images;
  3. creation of metadata and indices to optimize search of the digital library; and
  4. conversion of some or all of the images into text.

An example of such a library is the Historical Record Products of Bedford County, Tennessee where all of the early public records of a single county  were converted from page images on 50 rolls of microfilm into an on-line digital library. This 70 volume digital library contains all of the early records of Bedford County, Tennessee from the formation of the county in 1807 up to 1870. Thirty volumes are available for purchase on CD-ROM either individually or as a set. These volumes include Circuit Court Records, Chancery Court Records, County Court Records, Deed indices, Tax lists, Marriages, Wills, Church Records, and Bible Records. The remaining 40 volumes of the library contain deeds that are accessed through an on-line service that e-mails copies of a deed for $2.00. Because there are so many books of deeds and because most users are interested in only a few deeds scattered in various deed books, it is more economical to provide access to individual deeds by e-mail rather than by researchers purchasing an entire deed book on CD-ROM.

The entire library requires 31 Gigabytes (GB) of storage (15 GB for the 30 "for sale" volumes plus 16 GB for the 40 volumes of deeds) and can easily be installed on most modern hard disk drives. All volumes of the library are in html format with direct links to every page of the original documents. An example volume from this library is available on-line.

In a digital library, there is no need to mount and search through rolls of microfilm to locate a page of interest. With a few mouse clicks any page can be individually and quickly accessed. Page images can be printed on most laser and ink-jet printers with a quality that typically exceeds what can be achieved printing from the original microfilm on a microfilm printer. Pages are stored as gray scale images in JPEG format that can be easily accessed and subjected to further image processing if required to make portions of pages easier read.

The publication of this library marks  the first time that the complete, original, early records of a county have been published in digital format for easy access. GSC Associates applied its extensive professional experience in digital imaging and publishing standards in creating this library. The digital documents are automatically created by special software based on a few parameters (such as the number of pages in the document and the starting and ending image file names of the page images from microfilm scanning.) GSC Associates expects to publish similar digital libraries for other middle Tennessee counties in the future. The company also accepts contract work to create digital libraries for government organizations such as archives and county governments.

A side effect of this publishing work has been enabling the creation of new publicly available on-line indices for many of these early records. GSC Associates has provided free copies of volumes of early records to volunteers willing to create an index for those records or transcribe an existing index that the volume contained. The company benefits because researchers are more likely to purchase a volume if an on-line index shows that it contains names they are researching. The research community benefits because these indices are posted on-line for free, unlimited access.

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GSC Associates
11625 Vantage Hill Rd 1C, Reston, VA 20190, +1-303-388-6355 (phone)
E-mail: info@gscassociates.com
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