Cook County

With immense pride and excitement, we celebrate an extraordinary milestone at Avenu—a momentous digitization contract valued at more than $10 Million over five years, secured through the dedicated efforts of Ann Kirkbride – Business Unit Leader for Digital Transformation; Daniel Wurz – Director of Proposals; and Jim Hulley – Account Executive. This team demonstrated unwavering commitment, expertise, and dedicated countless hours to achieve this remarkable accomplishment to win over the incumbent, US Imaging.

Cook County includes Chicago making it the most populous county in Illinois and holds tremendous influence nationwide. The Cook County Clerk’s Office (CCCO) has embarked on a crucial project to digitize and preserve historical records dating back to 1871. These records, which include land documents and other important records, were at risk due to the deterioration of acetate-based microfilm, a condition known as “Vinegar Syndrome” (see more info about this below). To safeguard this valuable historical information, the Clerk’s Office sought a vendor to provide document scanning and digitization services.

The project’s objectives are clear:

  • Scan and digitize records from books and microfilm to ensure their long-term preservation.
  • Index digitized records to facilitate easy retrieval by CCCO staff and the public.
  • Enhance poor-quality images to make them usable for future reference.
  • Establish a mechanism for storing digitized images for CCCO’s future use.
  • Provide detailed reports on the progress, identifying digitized records, missing or damaged documents, and poor-quality images.

This initiative is crucial for preserving the history of Cook County and ensuring accessibility to these records for current and future generations. The Clerk’s Office is committed to protecting and digitizing these valuable documents, safeguarding them from the effects of Vinegar Syndrome, and making them easily accessible to the public.
Our role in this project is abundantly clear—to digitize and preserve the county’s historical records and invaluable documents, ensuring their accessibility and longevity.
This remarkable victory not only solidifies our presence in this pivotal region but also signifies our capacity to handle projects of grand scale and importance. Together, we are setting new standards in digitization services and making history. Congratulations to Ann Kirkbride, Daniel Wurz, Jim Hulley and all of you who played a part in this win!











“Vinegar syndrome” is a term used in the context of archival and preservation of old records and documents, including photographs and films. It refers to a chemical deterioration process that occurs in certain types of acetate-based materials, such as old film stock and photographic negatives.

Vinegar syndrome gets its name from the characteristic vinegary or acidic odor that is produced as the material breaks down. This deterioration is caused by the release of acetic acid, which occurs as the acetate base of the material breaks down over time. When left untreated, vinegar syndrome can lead to the deterioration of the affected items, making them brittle, warped, and, ultimately, unusable.

To prevent vinegar syndrome, archivists and preservationists take measures to store and handle acetate-based materials properly. This includes maintaining a stable temperature and humidity environment, as fluctuations can accelerate deterioration. Additionally, making digital copies or preservation copies of the content can help ensure that the information is not lost even if the original materials deteriorate.

Avenu’s Digital Transformation team, led by Ann Kirkbride with over 25 years in the field and supported by a team of digitization experts, possesses profound subject matter expertise and extensive experience in precisely handling these records.

Together, we’re preserving history and shaping the future of digitization. Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we continue this remarkable journey!