Federal Records Centers

How will my paper originals affect my scanning project?

The information on this page will help you understand how the condition, specifications, and requirements of your paper records will impact the cost and turnaround time of your scanning project.

file cabinet

Permanent vs. temporary records

Projects involving the digitization of temporary records - particularly those that are frequently referenced and/or that have a lengthy retention period— will typically yield the most tangible benefits to an agency. Permanent records are more difficult and costly to scan. The benefits of scanning permanent records should be carefully weighed against the potential financial costs associated with the project. The FRC can advise you on whether your agency should consider scanning a particular collection of records.

bunched up paper

Specifications of paper originals

Factors such as paper size, color, type, and thickness can affect the cost and turnaround time of your project. Non-standard paper may require scanner adjustments and can slow down the scanning job. Some examples of non-standard paper include oversized documents (such as architectural drawings or maps), carbon paper, cardstock, onion skin, multi-part forms, and colored paper.

staple remover

Special handling needs

Some records need special handling. This can include destapling, unbinding, repair, purging, processing of double-sided records, removing and scanning attachments such as sticky notes, etc. The FRC can offer a turnkey solution for you, ensuring that your records are properly prepared, handled, and preserved throughout the scanning process.

partial face of a lock

Records with sensitive information

If your agency’s records include sensitive information (such as Personally Identifiable Information and Protected Heath Information), the FRC can help you keep this information safe from unauthorized disclosure during the scanning process. When you contract with the FRC for a scanning project, your records never leave Federal custody. All scanning is performed by security-cleared, Federal personnel. We can encrypt your files to ensure that they are kept secure both in transit and in storage.

man sitting at a computer screen

Location of scanning

The FRC can arrange for shipping of your paper records to the FRC for scanning and can then return the records to you or store them at the FRC. We can also scan records on-site at your agency. This service is most appropriate for very large collections of paper records that would be expensive to move or for very active or sensitive records that need to stay at your agency. The FRC can provide experienced staff and can customize scheduling and workflow to your agency’s requirements. Contracting with the FRC keeps you from having to purchase equipment or hire staff.

darkend record with hard to read written text

Records that need digital enhancements

Some records are difficult to read because they are damaged or have faded over time. The FRC offers special services to make these records more legible. Using special software, we can enhance images and extract key information, thereby increasing the utility of the records. After scanning, the FRC can advise you on proper handling. We can store aging originals in regulations-compliant space in the FRC. And if your records are damaged by contaminants (such as mold), we can help you dispose of them safely and according to Federal regulations.

paper binding machine

Post-scanning handling of paper originals

You will need to decide what to do with your paper originals after your records have been scanned. If necessary, the FRC can return your records to their original condition for you (reassemble, staple, bind, etc.). We can then return the records to you or store them for you in a Federal Records Center. FRC records management experts can also advise you on whether and how you can dispose of the paper originals according to Federal regulations.