A major impediment to digitizing large manuscript collections is the cost of item-level descriptions, to provide access to the content.
This collection (which concerns an attempt to free slaves via the final will of the owner) is dependent upon excellent finding aid descriptions to provide access to the content via searching. The digitized items are linked (by script) into the finding aid, under the folder which describes them.
Minimal metadata is created for each intellectual item, using a boilerplate, a script, and the file names themselves. The latter incorporate box and folder number, as well as item sequence within the folder.
By doing this, we enable access to each item separately, and also pave the way for metadata remediation in the future, and/or item tagging by users.
While we are delivering this (and similarly digitized collections) via the Acumen software, this is not required. We also developed support for delivery of content at folder and/or item level outside of any existing EAD delivery system.
You can read more about this on our wiki. Our entire project, including the oversight, consultants, and usability study, cost us about $1.50 per scan. Now that the software is developed, it’s much cheaper. 🙂