Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scanning your way out of the thrals of paper

I have huge piles of paper. As a genealogist, I realize I am not alone in this situation but I have additional complicating factors, I have 40 years accumulation of business records that have saved every memo and scrap of paper and, to make matters worse, from several businesses. I literally have a mountain of boxes jammed with papers. Most of these "documents" are disposable. In other words, the actual paper has no intrinsic value, the only value is the information and most of that could be lost without any consequence. So what keeps me from simply dumping the files into the recycle bin? In short, a morbid fear that something valuable will be lost. Some vital piece of information will fade away into recycled paper.

But wait, there is a solution! Oh yeah, spend the rest of my life with a flat bed scanner scanning double-sided documents. Hmm. Actually, I have already scanned tens of thousands of documents and it hasn't made a dent in the pile. The pile is growing faster than I can scan. This goes not only for the business related stuff but also for the historically significant family history documents. So what is the solution? Cheap labor.

I hired one grandson and one nephew to sit all day long all summer and scan documents. Guess what? In the past two weeks they have scanned over 15,000 documents, about a 1000 or so a day. Of course, I had to get a little faster technology, so I purchased a sheet fed scanner and so all they have to do is sit there and feed it paper. The biggest challenge is preparing all that paper to go through the scanner. All paper clips, clamps, staples and such have to be removed and the piles have to be sorted into documents that need to be kept for legal reasons or otherwise and those that can simply be thrown away once they are scanned. It also takes a considerable amount to time to backup the scanned files.

This activity has been interspersed with digitizing the larger documents with a camera. The actual photographs are faster than scanning, but setting up the camera and getting ready to take the photos is extremely time consuming. So, I needed another time consuming project right now, didn't I?

For the first time in a very, very long time, the number of boxes has begun to decrease more rapidly that it is growing. Thank goodnes for very large hard drives.

1 comment:

  1. "and the piles have to be sorted into documents that need to be kept for legal reasons or otherwise and those that can simply be thrown away once they are scanned."

    I just though of a question I should ask a lawyer :-)

    In this day and age is there ** Any *** document that needs to be saved in the original? Is the day of originals on paper over, now that you caqn commit vast amonts of money on line without a signature? Do the ink stained attorneys still require hard copy for anything?

    Bob Kirk

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