Backstage Library Works
Title page excerpt from the 1945 legislative manual

Product Spotlight: Digitizing with South Carolina State Library

We are pleased to provide citizens with instant access to details about the South Carolina legislature and its members. Technology from Backstage Library Works allows us to make the South Carolina Legislative Manual collection available while preserving history for future generations.”
-Leesa Aiken, Agency Director, South Carolina State Library

“We worked together to establish a workflow for the Legislative Manuals that allowed us to compliment existing procedures already in place by the library. In addition to the established workflows, the materials are well taken care of, and as result, all of the library’s digital projects are great successes.”
– Caitlin Costalas, Digitization Project Manager

Backstage will be going into a third year working with the South Carolina State Library to continue digitizing pieces from its various collections. Starting in late 2018, we’ve had the pleasure to process over 66,000 pages and nearly 230 volumes to provide digital access to research materials from the last 100 or so years. To learn more about the project and see how it compares to our usual digitization workflows, I’ve consulted with the library’s current Project Manager, Caitlin Costalas.

What types of materials have these projects covered?

In the cumulative, the projects have spanned different bound volumes printed in the 1930s all the way up to 2019, and some of these digitized objects are available online. That link goes out to a page aggregating the South Carolina Legislative Manuals that were completed a year ago. They offer a public resource wherein patrons can familiarize themselves with the “executive, legislative and judicial branches of South Carolina State Government; the South Carolina Congressional Delegation; and State Officers.” Notably, it includes biographies and photographs of officials as well as a complete guide to the rules and operating procedures therein. The guides are very detailed and an excellent resource for those interested in South Carolina state politics.

Backstage has worked on other parts of their collection, such as – most recently – a collection of State Superintendent of Education annual reports from the early thirties and on. Over the course of the projects, the specifications haven’t changed very much. All the materials are close to the same size with similar, great physical condition with only a few exceptions being prone to fragile or flaking edges. Occasionally, Backstage encountered fold-outs big enough to need capturing in panels.

Were there any considerations that needed to be made during scanning?

During inventory review, which occurs when projects arrive in our material storage space and are being prepared for production, Backstage noted several volumes that were bound using side staples. This can be prohibitive to digitization because the staples pull on the page, and when laid flat on a 180° book cradle, the pages – especially those that are fragile – could be pulled enough to break or tear.

To prevent that, Backstage offered one of two options. The first possibility was to keep the materials bound and to try and capture them on a 120° cradle. Alternatively, the second option was to remove the staples entirely, disbinding the volumes. The downside to any project that options for disbinding is that the materials will not return to the library rebound, but the labor involved is less pronounced than the alternative and thus a little less expensive. It’s a great solution in instances when the original source material will be discarded or, as in the case of South Carolina State Library, there are duplicate physical copies available that the altering of one isn’t a big problem.

What was the workflow for the entire project?

In the past, we’ve advertised how our Digitization services can fall largely under one of several tiered categories. The South Carolina State Library projects generally fall under our Classic model of service.

After materials arrived, materials were inventoried and prepared for scanning. While the pages were captured two-at-a-time, they were split out in post-production to one page per image. This tends to be the preference to keep collections easy to read or print. All images were reviewed with 100% visual inspection to check consistency, clarity, and that the crop had been applied correctly. For this collection of projects, the images have a quarter-inch border around each page edge and a section of the facing page overlaps. The images were also rotated where necessary so that materials could be read correctly.


The end result has been PDFs with uncorrected OCR which are being uploaded into the South Carolina State Library’s digital database as well as some other deliverables. The naming schemas chosen for each collection are such that subsequent digitization work shuffles in easily and logically. Because the SCSL already has a very effective digitization program internally, maintaining an intuitive and accessible file naming schema helps the collections homogenize.

Work will be continuing later this year with 5 new volumes to be digitized, these from 1970 to 1974. Because SCLA does have an existing digitization plan in place, the work being done by Backstage addresses backlogs and put materials in the hands of researchers alongside SCLA’s normal digitization schedule. This successful project is an excellent example of how Backstage can supplement existing workflows within the library.

Contact Us

Backstage works with clients all over the world to digitize large, small, old, new collections, and everything in-between. To learn more about our pricing and how Backstage can help you with your next digitization project, you can call us at 1.800.288.1265, send us an email at, or fill out our Contact Us form.

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