By Stanley Bowling
Supervisor, Content Operations
“We continuously evolve to remain on the forefront and believe in creativity as a means of advancement.” So begins one of the core values of ProQuest. As with most corporate jargon, the sentiment is nice, but what does it really mean when put into practice?
With a long tradition of archiving and dissemination, including global dissertations and theses, ProQuest is often asked to retrieve older publications/documents from our microform vaults that have not yet been digitized. This process requires that microfilm be retrieved, prepared, and digitally scanned by one of our associates at the Ypsilanti, Michigan, manufacturing facility. [Image from Google Earth.]
There are specific scanning requirements necessary to ensure the images have the correct properties to load into the ProQuest platform. One of these requirements is that the TIFF images be the proper size. If this is missed at the scan stage, the images do not convert to a PDF file and do not load, potentially creating a delay.
In June of this year, one of the regular scanners, Gary Schock, wanted to find a way to prevent this delay. A colleague he had worked with in another department, Jason Cooke, had developed scripts in the past. The challenge was explained, and together they worked on an application that could size the images to the proper settings, and prevent failing because of incorrect properties. They worked together for several months, running sample publications through the process, until they had a functioning script.
They then presented their idea to the team leader, it was reviewed by software development and approved, and was then made available for implementation. Although this problem impacts less than 1% of all such publication scans, when scanning nearly 12 million dissertation pages each year, 1% is a significant number. The opportunity now is to reduce that to 0%.
ProQuest develops quality products with the content that researchers appreciate. It does not just happen; it happens because teams believe in the values of the company and good products that mean something. This delay problem was solved because of two individuals in different departments, working together, came up with an innovation.
When using the ProQuest platform, remember that the images and content are there to give you a quality research experience. That quality comes from a dedicated group of people who work every day to ensure your experience is beyond your expectations.