FINAL NARRATIVE PROJECT PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR CD-ROM TECHNOLOGY PROJECT 96/97

Ontario County Department of Records, Archives and Information Management Services
  1. The grant specified the development of a demonstration model in technology through the installation of a stand-alone hybrid microfilm to CD-ROM scanning and retrieval system.
    1. Permanent records, such as deeds to properties were to be scanned from film and burned into a CD-ROM for efficient and cost-effective retrievals.
    2. The project was to provide access to permanent, filmed records while avoiding the rather substantial cost of placing microfilm reader-printers into user departments.

  1. After the required bidding process, the Dept. of RAIMS chose a MicroDAX 3000 hybrid imaging system by Minolta with software from ALOS and a Gateway 2000 computer, 200Mhz, 3.5 gigab. hard drive, 16X CD ROM drive. The system has network and direct FAX capability.
    1. MicroDAX is generally configured to run 16mm blipped microfilm automatically. However, the vendor added a modification for the system to sense 35mm non-blipped microfilm. A Blip-Chip controller was also added.
    2. The modification for 35mm microfilm scanning was made because all early deed libers because of their size are microfilmed in 35mm format.
    3. The entire system was chosen because it met all possible use requirements and because of overall cost and labor effectiveness. While less expensive hardware systems are available, e.g. Canon, the yearly licensing fees for such systems run into several thousand dollars, while the ALOS software was a one-time purchase with a reasonable software licensing fee for each CD-ROM. Most of the licensing fee can be avoided totally if one places the necessary software only on the first and last CD-ROM of a records series. For convenience sake, we are placing the software on each CD-ROM.
    4. The purchase of the system was delayed because of the lateness of the NY State budget and the required bidding process. However, it is in use full-time every day and is working extremely well. I have to commend Advanced Image Management Services for its training and support. Although only one week was scheduled for training, AIM has spent far more time here than expected - without additional charge.
    5. Because of the experimental nature of the project - imaging 35mm rather than 16mm microfilm, we ran into difficulties at the early stages of the project. Either through an operator error or a software glitch, the system refused to burn CD-ROMs. The problem has been solved and the system is working efficiently. We are now working on two projects to test the total capability of the system. One is the continuing of imaging of deeds - a project that has been rated as "high priority" because the County Clerk's office will move into new and less roomy quarters. The second one is the imaging of inactive personnel information cards for effective and fast access. A summer intern is microfilming about 30,000 cards and then is imaging , and indexing them to burn CD-ROMs. These cards are permanent and on 16mm blipped microfilm. With these two projects, we have tested all capabilities of the hybrid system.
    6. Please note that a sample CD-ROM is enclosed. As will be noted, the images when first displayed in reduced form are often very dark. This is not an error by the MicroDAX system, but was done on purpose. The early deed originals have faded significantly and as a result, the 35mm film images are not much better. By darkening the images in scanning, the Dept. of RAIMS has achieved scanned images that are superior to the original (See enclosed sample printouts). When the small image is expended on the computer screen, it will be obvious that even at 50% of original size, the images are quite readable.
    7. Printouts of pages are best on a laser printer - although I have printed out readable copies with a dot matrix printer. The enclosed sample printouts are approximately 30% of the original size. However, even in letter-size, the pages are superior in readability to the original. It is possible to right-click and "rubber-band" any section of an image for printing. This is particularly important with deeds that have been filmed two pages at a time.
    8. We had to make a decision whether or not to index every deed by grantor and grantee. Since a good hardcopy index exists for deeds, we decided that re-indexing the deeds would be a monumental and costly task. The deeds are thus indexed by page numbers only. Since there are two pages on each image, both page numbers have to be entered for retrieval. This is only a minor inconvenience. The personnel records, on the other hand, are being indexed by full name and the last four digits of the Social Security number. The 4 digits of the SS number are added to avoid confusion of employees with the same name.
    9. The entire system has been demonstrated to county and town officials of Ontario County and other counties. The resulting CD-ROM has been demonstrated at the County leaders' meeting (decision makers on future imaging projects within their departments). Without exception, individuals who have seen the demonstrations have been impressed. More important, it was possible to notice the brains working as these individuals thought of appropriate applications within their own areas or departments.
    10. As so often, the Department of RAIMS takes chances with relatively new technology, copes with the frustration of inevitable bugs in new systems, and then passes the experiences on to other potential users. Although sometimes frustrated, we find new projects exciting and are willing to make life easier for our colleagues through hard experience.

  1. The RAO has visited the Department of RAIMS several times during the grant period, and has been shown the system and the results.

  1. The County Records Advisory Committee has met to help develop a new five-year strategic plan that addresses, among other things, the utilization of existing and emerging technology for records management. The Records Advisory Committee, individually and as a group, are very helpful and cooperative. (Whether that is the result of my threat that I need a new building if records aren't compressed, I am unable to say).
  2. Throughout my tenure at the Ontario County Department of Records, Archives and Information Management Services, the Board of Supervisors as well as the County Administrator, have been extremely supportive in all aspects of records management. They have not denied any needed funds or balked at the idea of renovating the existing building and associated equipment. During the past five years, the Board of Supervisors has approved a doubling of storage shelving, a $50,000 renovation of the moveable shelving system in the archives room, the addition of a permanent Assistant Records Management Officer and a third microfilmer. The building now has a brand-new central air conditioning system that allows greater flexibility in storage of permanent records. With the support of the Board of Supervisors and with the help of LGRMIF grants, the Department of RAIMS has become a model for other local governments that are becoming more concerned about records management issues. The Department of RAIMS is funded for seven employees with an annual budget of over $300,000.

  1. Grants received through LGRMIF have been a logical progression of demonstration models, and all projects have been continued with county funding. Two archival grants permitted the arranging of valuable historical records. The county picked up the position of Assistant RMO permanently - one of the most important improvements in records and archival management. A microfilm grant to start filming the Surrogate Court records has improved access to important research materials through rearrangement and a state-of-the-art reader/printer. The present technology grant is a logical continuation of a system of improved access and compression. An additional multi-county grant to improve the communication and sharing among county attorneys is not exactly a part of the strategic plan of the Department of RAIMS, but this technology grant does have the potential of improving statewide legal issues sharing and greater efficiency in all county attorneys' offices. The project is being picked up and continued by the County Attorneys Association.

  1. Ontario County and the Department of RAIMS are continuing the scanning of records series as started with the technology grant. Imaging has become an integral part of records management.

  1. Because the grant was essentially for equipment to complete digitizing projects, the projects will continue as part of our plan to make permanent, microfilmed archival records more accessible and easier to use. During the next two years, we will 1) continue to digitize real property deeds, 2) continue to microfilm and digitize records from Human Resources and 3) begin digitization of those microfilmed historical records that are used most frequently by researchers and staff.