Everything You Need to Know About FADGI

The Federal Agencies Digital Guideline Initiative is a working group that sets preservation standards for the digitization of media, including still images, audio and video recordings. As part of this initiative, the FADGI Still Image Working Group develops quality standards for scanned documents and images.

Federal agencies and organizations that digitize records for preservation in the National Archives must meet three-star image quality requirements. Find out everything you need to know to meet any relevant requirements for scanned records.

Be Confident With Compliance

The FADGI Still Image Working Group published the third edition of its Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials in May 2023. The deadline for implementing these guidelines is June 2024. If your organization is subject to these requirements, you should make sure that any scanning equipment you use meets three-star standards.

FADGI uses a star rating system for image capture. One-star images are only suitable for basic information and are not useful for optical character recognition or preservation.

Two-star images cannot replace the original document. Three-star images can serve as reproducible masters, or replacements for originals. Four-star images are the highest quality captures and can function as complete digital replicas of the original documents.

Three-Star FADGI Compliance

The National Archives and Records Administration requires scanned images and documents that will serve as permanent records for preservation to be of three-star quality. If your organization digitizes permanent government records, including paper documents or photographs, you should use scanning equipment that meets this standard.

Getting a scanner that meets FADGI three-star standards is not as simple as shopping for the lightest portable monitor. In addition to factoring in the specifications of FADGI-compliant models, you must arrange to have experts set up and calibrate each scanner. Staff may also require training in professional-grade digitization practices.

How To Test Images for FADGI Compliance

You will need to use specialized software to determine whether image captures are of three-star quality. OpenDICE is a free program for Windows or Mac. GoldenThread is a paid solution with the benefits of additional features and specialized customer support.

If an image that you intend to submit for preservation does not meet these standards, re-digitization using best practices and a scanner that meets FADGI 3-star standards will be necessary.

At first glance, the specifications for FADGI ratings for digitized images can resemble the specifications for a color laser printer. A three-star image must meet requirements for pixel count, white balance, color value, scale, sharpening and noise. In general, three-star images have a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch.

The NARA Digital Records Deadline

The latest digitization requirements go into effect in June 2024. At this point, all permanent digital records in the National Archives must be of three-star quality. If you are seeking imaging equipment that meets this standard, you should select a compliant scanner, such as a fi-7600, fi-7700, fi-7800 or fi-7900 model. A vendor that offers white-glove service complete with on-site installation, calibration and training can help your organization meet the deadline for FADGI compliance.