What Is a Rapid Capture Pilot Project?


By Caitlin Badowski, Collections Department

We at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum work very hard to keep our exhibitions exciting and new, so our visitors can see as much of our impressive collection as possible. But we cannot put everything on display in our museum. We have some amazing collections in our storage areas that are just waiting to be seen! One of these is the Sidney N. Shure Collection of stamps and covers from Israel and Palestine.

Given to us over the course of three decades, the Shure Collection is among the most important collections of Israel and Palestine stamps. The collection is housed in nearly 100 stamp albums, in two cabinets in our storage area. Combined, there are almost 4,000 album pages with stamps, covers and archival material collected, organized and compiled by Sidney N. Shure.

Shure-ly, if you’ll excuse the pun, there was no way for us to exhibit the breadth of this collection in our physical exhibition space. But perhaps we could display part of the collection online! We have been working with the Smithsonian Digitization Program Office for the past six months to plan, prepare and perform just such a task. In the span of a week, we will be able to image 1,000 album pages from the Sidney N. Shure Collection, and make these images publically available on the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. That is nearly a third of the collection!

A rapid capture project reflects the speedy workflow of taking high-quality digital images, editing them, and delivering them to our eager public in just a few hours. We will work with an imaging contractor to take digital images of 1,000 album pages, upload them to our internal servers, prepare them for public viewing, and load them onto the Collections Search Center. Thanks to technology, this process will only take a few hours.

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Linda Edquist rehouses a Shure album page

In the past, imaging projects of this nature would not have been possible for the National Postal Museum. The staff time required to individually scan 1,000 album pages would have been unimaginable, and we do not have the resources to purchase the amazing cameras and equipment that our contractor has. A rapid capture project pools our resources with the support of the Smithsonian Institution “Castle” to make bigger projects a reality.

This week, I have the pleasure to work with a great group of staff and contractors to move the collection to our imaging site for their rapid capture! We will remove the album pages, move them individually to an imaging stand, and wait for their glamour shots to be edited and uploaded to a server. From there, we will move the images to our Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), where the images will be ingested to both our collection database and to the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. Be sure to keep an eye out for these beautiful images as they become available!

Thank you to Katie, Eric, Emily C., Linda, Kim, Lynn, Beth, Becca, Manda, Emily M., Patricia, Meg, Susan, Ellyse, Allie, Kevin, Baasil, and Ted, and to our friends at DPO and Creekside Digital!

Caitlin Badowski

About the Author
Caitlin Badowski: "I have enjoyed working at the Postal Museum since 2004, when I was brought on as a Preservation Intern. Since that time, I have served as the Assistant to the Director and the Accessions Officer. I am also a student in the Museum Studies masters program at The George Washington University. At the NPM, I help maintain the collections and official object files."