Record digitization on Marion to-do list

Jan 8, 2019

MARION — With a daunting pile of town records which continues to grow, Selectmen said at a Jan. 8 meeting that they are working on a plan to completely digitize the town’s trove of documents.

Town Administrator Paul Dawson gave the Selectmen an update on his effort to learn more about the digitization process, an effort which has been aided by citizen volunteer Jeff Lawrence.

Lawrence is retired from the Boston company Iron Mountain, and has assisted Dawson in looking for options to preserve the town’s records. 

“Laserfiche is the company we’ve been looking at,” said Dawson. “They’re pretty much the gold standard in the industry in the northeast.”

Dawson also told the board that he and Lawrence visited the town of Mashpee, which is three years into their own record digitization, to get some information from those familiar with the process. 

“We got a lot of good information out of them to see how they were able to sort this out and do this in an incremental basis,” said Dawson. 

He also said that they visited North Andover, which is now 17 years into its process and almost finished. “For any project to be that successful its going to need an incredible amount of IT support, so there’s got to be that consideration,” said Dawson. 

Dawson said that the project could include the cost of a project manager into the project. Dawson added that Community Preservation Committee funds could be requested to fund the digitization process. 

Each year, the Community Preservation Committee awards money to projects through the Community Preservation Act in four categories: open space, historic preservation, affordable housing and recreation. The money is raised through a 3 percent surcharge on property tax bills. Spending these funds must be approved by voters at Town Meeting.

Prior to scanning documents and initiating the digitization process, Dawson said that there are companies which sort through records and eliminate duplicates or unnecessary items. 

Selectman John Waterman said that having a company come in and perform that process would be “a good first step.”

He also stressed the importance of keeping up with current records to ensure that Marion’s backlog doesn’t continue to grow. “If we don’t get the this thing rolling, we’ll never get there,” said Waterman. 

Dawson said that “in a perfect world” the project proposal would be ready for Spring Town Meeting.