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Archival and Retrieval Solution <br>Speeds Records Management

Archiving is a daunting task for record clerks across the board, especially those working with an antiquated microfilm system. At the University of Cincinnati, a study conducted with the assistance of an outside consultant pointed to the need for electronic-based methods that would digitize paper and microfilm images, archive the converted images in their original formats, and make them available on demand via internal networks and the Internet.

The University of Cincinnati has more than 300 departments and a total of 12,000 active employees. The Human Resources Department is the official custodian of records for all historically significant documentation related to current and past university employees. State law requires the university to provide access to personnel files. Documents that provide detailed information related to employment events must be retained for as long as 75 years after employment ends.

The Need for a New System
With more than 2.5 million documented employee records stored in more than 700 microfilm cartridges—each with approximately 3,700 image frames—the volume increased, delaying responses to inquiries. And the daily workload continued to increase as staff reductions, budget restraints, and external compliance issues were imposed.

With the old microfilm-based system, the Human Resources Records Office batched its daily input until 3,700 pages were accumulated. Then, the batch was sorted alphabetically and filmed, the microfilm was sent off-site for developing, and the paper was retained for later film quality control checking and indexing. A week or two after that, a working copy and the master of each cartridge would be returned to Human Resources.

The Records Office receives requests for historically significant employment information from throughout the university community as well as from government agencies, banks, attorneys, and other authorized sources. These telephone and mail requests were averaging more than 250 per month. Processing these requests using the microfilm-based system required considerable time, often taking several weeks for research and preparation. The university decided to create a new system built around IMR’s Alchemy Gold, a Windows-based document management system.

Merging Data
A Wicks and Wilson 4100 scan station was used to digitize the microfilmed images. Once captured, the images and corresponding index data were QCed and then merged together into several different databases using DataGrabber. A Kodak 3590 color scanner was installed to scan new paper documents as they arrive in the department. Scan2 provides a seamless interface to the paper capture process.

An API application was developed to increase the speed with which the new scanned images are indexed and to enhance user functionality by drawing on reference resources both within the Alchemy databases and other University of Cincinnati computer systems. An IBM server configured with 180GB of RAID 5 storage is used to contain and manage the current HR system networked to three dedicated workstations. It provides a platform to support of two concurrent build licenses and unlimited search clients.

Return on Investment
The university has successfully implemented a state-of-the-art electronic system that streamlines the Human Resources Records Office while providing an avenue for future growth and technology innovation throughout the university. The new system eliminates the constant backlog, and documents can now be scanned and indexed as they are received. By comparison, 3,700 pages can now be scanned, indexed, and available to users in only 90 minutes—rather than the minimum of seven days required previously. There is no need to wait for microfilm to be developed; electronic images are available immediately. The nine-step process required to create a document folder was eliminated. Files can now be transmitted by e-mail in seconds, thereby eliminating the need for paper copies and conventional mail delivery.

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