According to this story in The New York Times, not only is digitizing hard work – there’s a lot of it. The story summarizes well the challenges of making historic documents accessible online at the risk of being forgotten:
“For one thing, costs are prohibitive. Scanning alone on smaller items ranges from $6 to $9 for a 35-millimeter slide, to $7 to $11 a page for presidential papers, to $12 to $25 for poster-size pieces. (The cost of scanning an object can be a relatively minor part of the entire expense of digitizing and making an item accessible online.)”
For many there is a misunderstanding of just how little is currently available on the web:
“If researchers conclude that the only valuable records they need are those that are online they will be missing major parts of the story. And in some cases they will miss the story altogether.” – James J. Hastings, director of access programs at the National Archives.
We’re happy to see our efforts to digitize and give broader access to historical documents with NARA noted – and illustrated with a good-looking infographic: