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The National Library of Spain offers 6.1 million euros to digitize its collections: 5.3 million pages and 600,000 minutes of video and audio

The National Library of Spain (BNE) is going to undertake the massive digitization of an important part of its press, video and audio collections and the general collection, which includes modern monographs, old monographs, scores, manuscripts, incunabula and postincunables , graphic material and cartography. An enormous task that will affect 5.36 million pages and 577,940 minutes of audiovisual content.

The BNE considers that these collections should be digitized with the greatest urgency, since, due to their state of deterioration, you run the risk of losing them forever. But the institution’s capacity to undertake a process of these dimensions is very limited, which is why it has put out to tender a contract for this purpose in which it offers a total of 6,136,136 euros for a period of two years , as published today by the Official State Gazette (BOE).

The text of the tender specifies that, given the disparate nature of the funds to be digitized, The project is divided into three lots, corresponding to press, audiovisual material and general fund -book material-, for which the bidding companies may submit individual bids, for two or for all. Each of the contracts is valued at a tax-free amount of just over two million euros.

“The digitization of the Spanish bibliographic heritage pursues a double objective: on the one hand, the conservation of these materials, since digitization avoids future manipulations and therefore their deterioration; on the other, his dissemination, which is greatly increased by uploading these materials to digital libraries, which citizens can access comfortably and without restrictions from anywhere in the world, ”the document states.

In the justifying report of the project, the National Library indicates that its workers have been digitizing the funds for more than 20 years, during which time they have had the collaboration of companies and external organizations that have helped them with this work through projects like the one they have put out to tender today. In the last of these collaborations, executed through an agreement with Red.es, They managed to digitize a total of 766,515 minutes included in 12,972 copies of sound backgrounds (cassettes and cartridges) or audiovisual (VHS and beta videos).

However, the institution emphasizes that, “despite the efforts made by the BNE in recent decades to digitize its patrimonial funds, a large part of this heritage remains to be digitized”.

Digitized batches

Among the files to be digitized through this contract is material of great historical value, such as a multitude of diaries and magazines from the 18th, 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, slate recordings, incunabula or sheet music.

The hemerographic material has hundreds of newspaper and magazine issues such as La Prensa de Madrid (period 1907-1926), El Diario Catalán (1891-1903), El Nacional (1894-1934), El Debate (1910-1939), El Correo de Madrid (1880-1914) or El Tiempo ( two periods: 1870-1883 and 1921-1936), as well as periodic political propaganda publications such as FE (1938-1946), the official media of the fascist Spanish Falange party.

“The digitization of historical newspapers and magazines is important because these materials present the problem of acidification of the paper support, which makes them vulnerable and difficult to preserve. In particular, the 19th century publications may have suffered for a long time the process called slow fire, which ends up destroying the paper, “the BNE explained to Engadget.

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The tender document specifies that all this hemerographic material must be digitized and delivered to the BNE in TIFF and PDF formats. It also underlines that, before starting the work, the contractor will have to check the status of the documents, in case their preservation does not allow a safe scan. The successful bidder will be responsible for any damage that any material may suffer., both written and audiovisual, during the provision of the service.

Regarding the audiovisual fund, with this contract it is intended that 2,700 beta and VHS videos (260,400 minutes of content), 1,002 cartridges (41,000 minutes), 3,775 cassettes (226,540 minutes) and 5,000 slate discs (50,000 minutes) are digitized. The contract also includes the scanning of covers, labels, brochures and other bibliographic material attached to the recordings.

In addition, the company that is awarded the contract for the digitization of audiovisual collections will also It will be obliged to carry out restoration tasks of the material, such as cleaning, changing the pads in the cartridges and splicing the tapes, in case they are broken. The sound recordings will be delivered to the BNE in WAV and MP3 formats, the audiovisual ones in Quicktime.MOV and MPEG2 formats and the bibliographic ones in TIFF and PDF formats.

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“The digitization of audiovisual and sound collections on magnetic tape (video, cartridges and cassettes) kept in the BNE’s warehouses for decades is one of the jobs that should be done with the greatest urgency, because, despite having been preserved in controlled environmental, are suffering content loss due to the nature of the materials from which they are made“They report from the National Library.

Finally, the batch of book material includes the digitization of 2,280,000 pages of modern monographs, modern monographs and scores; 500,000 pages of manuscripts, incunabula and post incunabula; and 83,333 pages of graphic material and cartography. All this material will be delivered to the BNE in TIFF and PDF formats.

In this batch, the BNE emphasizes to Engadget that “special emphasis will be placed on monographs by twentieth-century authors that are already in the public domain. Every year for about 4 or 5 years, we have tried to digitize the works of authors that entered the public domain. We have to address everything prior to the twentieth century, which was prior to the systematization of this work, that is, authors from 1900 to 1930 approximately “.