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# Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Inside an Ancestry.com Remote Scanning Facility
Posted by Diane

At the genealogy media event Ancestry.com sponsored last week, our group got a virtual glimpse at the Silver Spring, Md., digitization facility where Ancestry.com scans records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Of its 9 billion textual records, 1 percent of the holdings in NARA’s Washington, DC, research center have been digitized, according to Ancestry.com's Todd Jensen.

In a quest to "go where the records are," Ancestry.com has opened 15 remote scanning operations in the in the United States. Jensen, who oversees the digitization efforts, emphasized the seriousness of the undertaking. Though he didn’t get into specifics, he said costs for the process and insurance are as expensive "as you might imagine."

Pages and pages of government directives regulate the removal of records from NARA’s building:
  • A NARA monitor—subsidized by Ancestry.com—must accompany the documents at all times. When employees go on break or leave for the day, the records are locked in a secure room.
  • The transport vehicle must have a full gas tank and a specially trained driver who follows approved routes (avoiding highways and other roads that permit vehicles carrying hazardous materials) for the 10-mile trip from NARA to the scanning facility.  
  • The documents must be inside when transitioned between the vehicle and the facility.
  • The scanning and secure storage rooms can’t be in a basement or on the top floors of a building.
  • The facility must have approved surfaces. Some paints, rubbers, carpets and other materials can “off-gass,” or emit vapors that harm documents.  
  • The scanning facility must duplicate the conditions of a NARA reading room. Ink pens are banned, for example, and the temperature and humidity are carefully controlled.
  • NARA’s security director reviewed the scanning facility and required some changes, such as hardening the entry points.


Ancestry.com | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 9:04:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 7:24:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thank you for an interesting look the nitty-gritty details of the NARA alliance with Ancestry. The protocol for handling documents is insightful -- we should all be so careful! I especially enjoyed the notation about the location of scanning and storage rooms -- no basements or attics for these special works.
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