Digitizing archival or unique material increases access to heritage collections since your users can view them without having to physically visit your institution. At the same time, it can give your researchers an accurate idea of your holdings in order to better plan for an onsite visit. Digitization also provides electronic access to often fragile and heavily used heritage collections without harming the originals.

Whatever your reasons for digitization, this resource is meant to assist you with all the stages of planning, digitizing, delivering, and sharing your digital content with users around the globe.

We know that more resources are available and look forward to updating this page with new recommendations. Please let us know if you have a suggestion!

General Resources

The following websites offer step-by-step general overviews of the issues surrounding digitization.

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Planning Your Digitization Project

When planning your digitization project you need to visualize your project from start to finish. Consider how your digital material will be preserved for longevity and sustainability, predict the cost of the project, and be knowledgeable about best practices, standards, and overall digitization policies for your institution.

Project Management:

Sustainability through Digital Preservation:

Costs:

Standards:

Policies:

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Digitizing Your Collection

This section provides information on digitizing your heritage material whether its textual documents, photographic images, audio, or moving image records. Foremost in your mind should be the selection of material for digitization, the type of scanning equipment you will need (or whether or not you should consider outsourcing all or part of your scanning), and the storage of electronic files.

Preservation services at Harvard University provide a list of bibliographies based on digitization subject. Browse these for more resources.

The National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) Guide to Good Practice outlines issues to consider when digitizing audiovisual material, among other types.

Selection:

Storage:

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Delivering Digital Content

Effective delivery of your digital content is essential in determining how your users will actually find your online collections. Your choice of metadata plays a very important role in making your material searchable by your users as does the general usability of your website. It is also vital to know the status of the copyright of the digitized material in your collections. Is it in the public domain? Can your users get copies?

Mark Jordan’s book Putting Content Online: A Practical Guide for Libraries offers an excellent overview on the issues surrounding search and display for text, still and moving images, and audio files for various types of user groups.

  • Putting Content Online: A Practical Guide for Libraries
    Chapter 6: “Search and Display”
    Mark Jordan

Metadata:
This website from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) provides an overview of various metadata standards and how they interact with each other. Metadata standards covered include Dublin Core, TEI, METS, MODS, and EAD.

Copyright:

Usability:

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Sharing Your Digital Collections

When sharing your digital content, you need to consider the feasibility of networking with other heritage institutions as well as determining your rights for publishing or distributing this information.

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