May 19, 2022

Thousands of Items in Only Hours: New Article Reports on the Smithsonian’s “Rapid Capture” Digitization Process

From Smithsonian Magazine:

As the Smithsonian works to digitize its collection of 137 million items, the Digitization Program Office has turned to the National Numismatic Collection housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History along with other legal tender such as bank notes, tax stamps and war bonds. The 250,000 pieces of paper will become the Institution’s first full-production “rapid capture” digitization project.


Last summer, the Digitization Office captured the bumblebees at the National Museum of Natural History. Earlier this month, the Freer and Sackler galleries made their entire collections of 40,000 works available digitally, the first Smithsonian museums to do so.

The term “rapid capture” refers to the speed of the workflow. Before this process was in place, digitizing a single sheet could take as much as 15 minutes, at a cost of $10 per sheet. Now, the team works through 3,500 sheets a day, at less than $1 per sheet.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art Release Complete Hi-Res Digitized Collection (40,000 Works) Online (January 1, 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.