Montana History Portal - Hardware and Software Recommendations

Montana History Portal - Hardware and Software Recommendations


The hub of any scanning station is the computer. Because archival-quality digital files are very large in size and can be quite taxing on computers, ensure that your computer has adequate RAM and disk space. Remember that image-processing speed will have a direct effect on your workflow and your ability to produce scans in a timely fashion. Critical to the success of any digitization project is a computer with a balance of reliable components, speed and storage that will increase productivity and overall effectiveness.


Flatbed scanners are recommended for most digitization projects. Most flatbed scanners can be used for materials in sizes up to approximately 11”x17” (depending on the size of the bed).

A slide scanner may be a desired addition if your collection includes large numbers of slides or 35mm/small format negatives. Flatbed scanner: minimum resolution 1200 dpi with 32 bit depth Optional Slide scanner: minimum resolution 2400 dpi with 32 bit depth 

Digital Camera

Point and Shoot — Consumer-oriented “point and shoot” cameras are generally not suitable for digitization projects. The file size is generally insufficient; the lens quality is limited, and there is no studio flash synchronization.

35 mm Digital Single Lens Reflex — for many digitization projects, a 35mm digital single lens reflex (DSLR) type camera may be the best capture device. The digital DSLR is ideal for making high-quality images and is a simple, cost effective solution. The advantages of this type of camera include: high image quality; appropriate image resolution; ease of use; flexibility in shooting situations; option for tethered shooting; flash synchronization for quick capture; and modest price range. 

Digital Audio Recorder

If you are conducting an oral history project and anticipate mounting either portions of or entire interviews on the Portal site, the Portal requires using a digital recorder. Your digital recorder should have sufficient memory, an external microphone, and the ability to record the interviews as WAV files. A digital recorder should be able to meet the Digital Audio specifications outlined in the Guidelines for Media Content. 

Digital Video Recorder Software

Editing Tools for digital recorders:
      WavePad (Mac) ‐
      Audacity (Windows) ‐


Secure long-term digital storage is a crucial component of digital preservation as digital images take up a large amount of space on any computer or network. Always ensure that Portal digital files are backed up to at least two sources. Storage for your Portal collection’s master files could include the following: CD-RW drives, DVD-ROM drives, network servers, and hard drives. 

    • Related Articles

    • Montana History Portal - Metadata Guidelines

      Title Element Name Title Dublin Core Definition A name given to the resource. Is Field Required? Required Is Field Repeatable? No How to Use? Title may also be an identifying phrase or name of the object supplied by the contributing institution. Take ...
    • Montana History Portal- Digital Preservation Policy

      Purpose: Preservation of existing digital master files makes it possible to ensure digital collections will live on despite changes in technology. Policy: It is the policy of the Montana State Library (MSL) that contributors to the Montana History ...
    • Montana History Portal - Oral History - Getting Started

      Oral History Getting started Adapted from a Montana Historical Society Research Center document titled, "An Oral History Primer," and subtitled, "Oral History Program Pamphlet #1." The original pamphlet is based on Doing Oral History by Donald ...
    • Montana History Portal - Folder Hierarchy

      Create a Folder Hierarchy for a Portal Collection: Introduction The folder hierarchy determines the structure of the item display. Before you begin scanning, decide how you would like your collection to display on the Montana History Portal If, ...
    • Montana History Portal - Frequently Asked Questions

      What is it? The Montana History Portal (Portal) is a statewide project designed to provide access to digital collections of items relating to Montana’s cultural heritage and government. It is sponsored by the Montana State Library and the Montana ...