Digitize University Records

When done carefully, digitizing (or "scanning") university records can benefit your office: Integrating legacy documents into an electronic system, quickening retrieval, and enabling remote access by multiple users are all good uses for this technology. On the other hand, scanning records just to save space in your office rarely pays off. 

The Decision Tree below is designed to help you determine if scanning is your best option, or if records should instead be transferred to the Archives, destroyed, or stored off-site at Iron Mountain. 

For a consultation, please contact the Archives

Scanning Decision Tree

  • Have the records met scheduled retention (according to the Records Retention Schedule)?

    • yes
    • no
      • Continue

  • Do the records have a short retention schedule (according to the Records Retention Schedule)?

    • yes
      • Generally, it is not cost-effective to scan records unless they'll be used regularly over the medium to long term.

    • no
      • Continue

  • Are the records used infrequently?


    Do the records take up too much space, and is this the primary reason for scanning?

    • yes
    • no
      • Continue

  • Do you need to access the records remotely or by multiple users?


    Do you need to integrate the records into an electronic system to improve workflow?


    Will scanning the records improve preservation or disaster recovery?

    • yes
      • The records are good candidates for scanning. See our scanning tips below.

    • no
      • Scanning the records may not be worthwhile. Contact us for other options.

Scanning Tips

The key to a successful digitization project is planning. While Tufts has no standardized scanning guidelines, there are a number of factors to consider before you begin:

Ensure that scans will be searchable and retrievable. Select a directory structure and file naming convention. How will the files be indexed? What metadata is required? Will Optical Character Recognition be used to make the documents keyword-searchable? Select a resolution. Common minimum scanning resolution is 300 dpi; 200 dpi may be acceptable for clean, typed, black and white documents. For OCR purposes, 600 dpi may be preferable.

Plan to store scans in Tufts systems, which are secure and backed up regularly. Choose a file format that will be supported over time, such as PDF for documents and TIFF for images. Scanned records must be migrated forward with hardware and software changes; they are bound by the same retention requirements as the original documents, as outlined in the Records Retention Schedule. When the retention period expires, will the scans be transferred to the Archives or destroyed? Ensure there is a procedure in place to do this. 

Vendor Selection
Tufts does not have a preferred vendor for digitization of Public Institutional Data. For small projects (under $10,000), feel free to contact the Archives for a recommendation. For large projects (over $10,000), contact Purchasing for assistance with selection, bidding, and documentation. You’ll need an estimated page count to get an accurate bid.

Tufts’ preferred vendor for digitization of Restricted Institutional Data and Confidential Institutional Data is Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain takes extra steps to protect sensitive information and its contractual language (related to its responsibility for information security) has been vetted by Tufts.

For in-house scanning projects, ensure that the confidentiality of Restricted Institutional Data and Confidential Institutional Data is protected during and after digitization. Remember that devices may retain copies of documents that have been scanned on them, unless configured to automatically delete stored information. For assistance with deletion, contact TTS.

Arrange documents in the order they will be scanned, remove paper clips and staples, and number multi-page documents. 

Quality Control
Don't destroy original documents until you've confirmed scans are usable and complete. They should meet the following criteria:

  • Accessible: Can be retrieved for reference or access within a reasonable period of time.
  • Readable: Can be opened and easily read by all users.
  • Authentic: Correctly reflect the original documents.
  • Secure: Saved in a location that is secure and backed up on a regular basis by Tufts Technology Services.