Digitizing Special Formats

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This list of resources is curated by the Digital Library Federation for the benefit of cultural heritage professionals planning projects involving the digitization of rare and unique materials. Applicants to the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives and Recordings at Risk programs of the Council on Library and Information Resources may find these helpful in planning project proposals.

Rather than providing comprehensive coverage, this list includes introductory and reference materials that are good places to begin an exploration of issues of broad import to digitizing cultural heritage materials.

Content for this wiki page is currently being curated by program staff at the Council on Library and Information Resources. This page was originally developed and edited by the following team: Nicholas Graham, Project Coordinator, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, Lisa Gregory, Digital Projects Librarian, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and Tamsyn Rose-Steel, CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Medieval Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

If you would like to suggest a resource for inclusion on this page, send your suggestion to info@diglib.org. The DLF is currently seeking professionals from DLF member institutions who would like to participate in a curatorial group to develop and maintain the content of this page. Prospective volunteers for this group should also send expressions of interest to info@diglib.org.

Getting Started with Designing a Digital Preservation Plan

This section includes resources that will give an overview of the concepts that a cultural heritage institution will consider as it designs a digital preservation plan for digitally reformatted materials. Many of these resources give special attention to concepts and strategies that will be of particular use to institutions working to construct a plan from scratch or with limited financial and technical means. Resources that focus on particular types of collections are included in separate categories.


Data Integrity

Newspaper Collections

Enhancing Access and Discoverability

Metadata Aggregation


  • The Print Archives Preservation Registry (PAPR) collects information about serial titles, print holdings, and archiving terms and conditions. It is a valuable resource for assessing the uniqueness of serial collections and determining the degree of need for digitization of those collections.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Getting Found: the SEO Cookbook provides a step-by-step video guide to help libraries measure and monitor the search engine optimization (SEO) performance of their digital repositories. The Cookbook includes everything necessary to implement a preconfigured Google Analytics dashboard that continuously monitors SEO performance metrics relevant to digital repositories.
  • The Wikipedia Library offers resources to help cultural heritage institutions expose their collections through Wikipedia. As a common starting point for research, Wikipedia can be used to direct researchers to libraries where the resources can be accessed directly.


  • The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Web Accessibility Toolkit explains the principles of accessibility, universal design, and digital inclusion, and offers tips about best practices and checklists for digital repository creators that can help them ensure digitized content is as broadly accessible as possible.

Enhancing Access and Discoverability to Media Collections

  • The Media Ecology Project (Dartmouth College) "provides online access to primary moving image research materials, and engages dynamic new forms of scholarly production and online publishing."

Digital Repositories



Digital Reformatting


Audio and Audiovisual

  • The Council on Library and Information Resources produced Strategies for Audiovisual Digitization Projects (2017), a free two-part webinar series that discusses multiple approaches that cultural memory institutions can take to digitally reformat audiovisual materials and collections. Outsourcing with Audiovisual Digitization Service Providers (Transcript, Slides), features a panel of representatives from a/v digitization vendors who discuss types of services and common hurdles faced by institutions. Low-Cost, DIY, and Community-Based Approaches to Audiovisual Digitization (Transcript, Slides), features a panel of speakers who discuss a variety of tools, strategies, and organizations that are focused on creating broader access to resources needed for audiovisual digitization projects, and will provide guidance on how best to implement in-house audiovisual digitization programs.
  • The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) released the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation in 2015 as a practical introduction to caring for and preserving audio collections. It is aimed at individuals and institutions that have recorded sound collections but lack the expertise in one or more areas to preserve them.
  • In 2016, the Audio-Visual Working Group of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative's released Guidelines: Motion Picture Film Scanning Projects. This report includes "an introductory essay, a set of tables that describe a range of film 'inputs' and digital 'outputs,' and concludes with a model statement of work for outsourced conversion of film to video." Film digitization standards are still in the early stages of development, but this report provides a solid understanding of current best practices.
  • Format Characteristics and Preservation Problems (2007) "succinctly covers the format characteristics and preservation problems identified by FACET (Field Audio Collection Evaluation Tool) as contributing to instability, degradation, and/or increased risk, providing specific information to aid in ranking field collections using the FACET software application." FACET is an open-source application that "helps collection managers construct a prioritized list of audio collections by condition and risk, enabling informed selection for preservation." Even for institutions not using FACET, the publication is a good source of information (with several helpful visual aids) that can aid in the assessment of audio collections.
  • Visual & Playback Inspection Ratings System (ViPIRS) is a "Microsoft Access database tool designed to assist in the survey and preservation planning of audiovisual collections as part of Developing Principles and Methodologies for Moving Image and Audio Preservation in Research Libraries. ViPIRS is designed with a wide range of users in mind: from audiovisual novices to experts; from small institutions to large." ViPIRS has been developed for magnetic media, which includes modules for videotape, audiocassettes, and 1/4" reel-to-reel.

Still Image

Outsourcing Audiovisual Digitization

  • Digitizing Video for Long-Term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template "is intended to take an institution step-by-step through the process of drafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the transfer of analog video formats to digital carriers for preservation. This template can be used by libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions and submitted to qualified transfer vendors."

Copyright and Intellectual Property


  • Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels are a tool for Indigenous communities to add existing local protocols for access and use to recorded cultural heritage that is digitally circulating outside community contexts. They can be used to identify and clarify which material has community-specific restrictions regarding access and use.

Determining Copyright Status


Orphan Works

Provenance, Privacy, and Ethics

Funding Opportunities

This section includes a listing of organizations that provide support for projects involving digitization of archival materials for preservation and access. This list is not exhaustive and submissions are encouraged (send submissions to DigiWiki@clir.org).

  • The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) will be offering a sliding scale discount of up to 70% for tape-to-file video preservation transfer services to individual artists and small to medium sized arts and cultural heritage organizations. U.S. based individual artists and visual, performing and cultural arts organizations, historical societies and regional archives with arts-related collections are invited to apply for discounted services through an application process.
  • The GRAMMY Museum Grant Program awards grants to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the music and recorded sound heritage of the Americas. The Archiving and Preservation area has two funding categories: Preservation Implementation ($20,000 max award) and Assistance, Assessment and/or Consultation ($5,000 max award).
  • The National Film Preservation Foundation offers several types of preservation grants supporting the creation of preservation and access copies of American orphan films of historic and cultural interest. Basic Preservation Grants are the best choice for most institutions. Offered twice yearly, these grants award cash and in some cases services donated by laboratories and post-production houses. The larger Matching Grants enable experienced preservationists to undertake more extensive projects. The Avant-Garde Masters Grants, funded through the generous support of The Film Foundation, target the preservation of motion pictures significant to the development of the avant-garde in America.

Education and Training Opportunities

  • Strategies for Audiovisual Digitization Projects is a free two-part webinar series that discusses multiple approaches that cultural memory institutions can take to digitally reformat audiovisual materials and collections. Effective Outsourcing with Audiovisual Digitization Service Providers includes representatives from a variety of audiovisual digitization service providers who discuss types of available services and common hurdles faced by institutions. Low-Cost, DIY, and Community-Based Approaches to Audiovisual Digitization has speakers discuss a variety of tools, strategies, and organizations that are focused on creating broader access to resources needed for audiovisual digitization projects. Speakers also provide guidance on how best to implement your own audiovisual digitization program.
  • Lyrasis offers a variety of classes relevant to digitization and digital content management, such as Introduction to Audio Visual Digitization, Introduction to Digital Project Management Planning, and Digitization for Small Institutions. The classes and events schedule contains up-to-date information about offerings.

Information from Digitization Service Providers

NOTE: This section is provided for convenience and information only. The Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources do not recommend or endorse any specific digitization service provider, and the use or non-use of any particular provider has no bearing upon any applicant's consideration in the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives or Recordings at Risk competitions.

ArcaSearch is the leader in document preservation and search for historical, educational, corporate, and government archives. ArcaSearch's expertise is digitally preserving original materials, and then creating an easy to use searchable archive. ArcaSearch was awarded a patent in 2010 for its image capture process that produces high quality and fast search results. For a live demonstration, contact Chuck Miotke, ArcaSearch General Manager, at chuck.miotke@arcasearch.com or at 989 430 3877.

Bay Area Video Coalition is one of the nation’s longest-standing non-profit video and audio preservation organizations. BAVC remains a leader in the field, developing the highest quality preservation standards and practices while working with individuals and cultural, academic, and media organizations to meet a range of needs for preserving historically and artistically important video and audio materials. BAVC provides Assessment & Planning and Transfer services. BAVC's Preservation Access Program offers reduced rates on video and audio preservation services to artists and small- to mid-sized arts and cultural heritage organizations. Services include analog-to-digital preservation transfers at a discounted rate based on organizational budget size. NEA funding also supports BAVC’s efforts to advance audiovisual preservation practice and theory based on new and innovative developments in the field.

The deadline for the next round of PAP is forthcoming, and will likely be in the late summer of 2017! Questions can be answered by calling 415-558-2131 or by emailing preservation-at-bavc.org).

BMI Imaging Systems, Inc. enables libraries to transform microfilm records into a digital format that provides easy access and image enhancement capabilities never seen before. In addition to the archival TIFF used for inclusion to the State/National repositories, BMI provides a solution that allows patrons to scroll digital microfilm rolls from a computer and use full text search to find records, articles, and photos for interim access. Adjustable grayscale allows users to turn black and white images into real photos. For more information please contact Jake Walker at (800) 488-3456 ext 406 or jwalker@bmiimaging.com.

The Cutting Corporation is an Audio Preservation Lab that specializes in preserving obsolete analog audio recordings to high quality digital format. Using both contemporary and vintage audio equipment mixed with years of knowledge and experience, we are able to offer exceptionally high quality analog to digital conversions for practically any type of audio media. Whether you are a university archive with oral histories or an individual with family recordings, we can provide a customized digitization solution for your audio collection.

For additional information, please contact Aaron Coe at 301.654.2887.

DataBank is a National Document & Information Management Company with over 23 years of experience in document conversion and automation. Their areas of expertise include the conversion of photos, archival documents and legacy microfilm or microfiche collections. They offer seamless integration with repositories for storage and retrieval of scanned media. For additional information contact Kathy Berger, Senior Solutions Consultant, at kberger@databankimx.com or at (603) 463-0154.

Digital Media Services has an Archival Digitization program for the preservation and conversion of physical tape and film formats into the latest digital file formats. It has digital archive service centers on both U.S. coasts to minimize shipping costs and times for clients. For a free quote or questions concerning an upcoming project, please contact Keith Eland, Senior Account Executive, by phone at 646-975-6122, or by email at keland@digitalmediaservices.com.

Digital Revolution is a full service Multi Media facility located in the heart of San Francisco. Founded by Paul Grippaldi in 2004, Digital Revolution is dedicated to helping clients create high quality digital media. From Legacy Media Digitizing : Preservation : Archiving : Video Creation : Post Production : Disc & USB Copying Services, Digital Revolution is the choice of Corporations, Educational Institutions, Non-Profits, Film Companies, Government Agencies and Individuals for their multi-media needs. For additional information call Digital Revolution at 415-398-1200.

Immure Records is a Minnesota-based company that provides video and audio media transfer and restoration services for a variety of formats. Address: 1740 130th Ave. NE Blaine, MN 55449 | Phone: (763) 862-5992 | Email: info@immurerecords.com

The Internet Archive (IA) is one of the world’s largest public digital libraries, with an extensive collection of human culture. The goal is to provide free access to all knowledge in an accessible, digital format for researchers, historians, people with disabilities, and the general public. The Internet Archive also offers online access and discovery of digital content, including public domain eBooks and a more selective collection of public domain and non-public domain texts available for lending at OpenLibrary.org.

IA offers non-destructive digitization with a range of analog and born-digital formats, including: printed materials that are bound and unbound (books, magazines, yearbooks, etc.), archival materials, photographs, microfilm, microfiche, film and video (8mm and 16mm). Services include photographic imaging, digital processing, preservation, and access to digital data. Items to be digitized can be sent to one of 33 regional digitization centers around the world, or portable equipment can be placed on-site within libraries and archives. Questions: DigitalLibraries@archive.org

For an overview of the Internet Archive workflow, please click this link; To reach one of the Internet Archive centers, view contact info at this link; and to purchase digitization equipment, follow this link.

Luna Imaging, Inc. offers digitization and software & hosting services for building and maintaining digital collections. Digitization services include: Preservation scanning; Access capture; Book capture services; and OCR, PDF, BookReader processing.

LYRASIS can support special collections and archival digitization projects by providing:

  • Digitization and Project Management Services – working through its Digitization Collaborative LYRASIS can digitize a wide range of source materials including print/manuscript/microfilm/photographic materials/audio/video and film and manage the process for you.
  • Staff Expertise – information on processes and standards for project planning
  • Professional Development Opportunities – LYRASIS offers a wide range of classes and can provide specific digitization classes to suit local needs.

Mass Productions is an expert Audio, Video, and Film Preservation service with over 25 years of experience. Mass Productions specializes in digitizing large archives of obsolete media, and has an excellent reputation with Universities and Libraries. They have preserved thousands of audio and video recordings of great historical value.

Archive Services include:

  • NARA and Library of Congress archive standards compliance
  • Free onsite consultation
  • Free pickup and delivery of your media ( in Boston area )
  • Highest Resolution Media Transfers and Reformatting
  • Mold removal, Tape baking, and repairs
  • Film color correction
  • Information Technology Consultation
  • Metadata collection and embedding
  • Free access copy files for web sharing
  • Raid data storage and backup during production
  • Delivery on Hard Drive, FTP, or Cloud

Please contact Mass Productions at info@massproductions.net or call 617-501-1738.

Memnon Archiving Services offers a range of services to digitize, restore, preserve and provide access to audio-visual and cultural archives. Our unique parallel workflow system is designed to ensure quality while allowing larger volumes of materials to be preserved. Memnon’s services are suitable for a wide range of archive owners – from cultural institutions, libraries, universities and record labels. Memnon has accrued over 15 years of experience working with audio-visual technology throughout in Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Our workforce has evolved into a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, computer specialists, documentation and meta-data management experts and project managers. A Sony Company since 2015, Memnon has the flexibility to provide services in a way that best fits our clients’ needs. Our North American headquarters are located in Bloomington, Indiana.

  • Outsourced Service - In four delivery centers around the world, we propose an easy and paramount solution for all your archiving needs, ensuring high efficiency and fast project completion.
  • On-site Managed Service - Memnon in-a-box is our onsite managed service to provide digitization service in your facilities- planning, setup, ramp up, delivery, completion, removal. Memnon manages and operates the project in your facilities, with optional deployment of your staff and your equipment if requested. Leverage Memnon’s workflows, tools, operational procedures, equipment, staff and expertise, with no further investment for you.
  • Hybrid Services - Depending on your specific requirements, Memnon can implement a mixed approach where part of the digitization process is done in-house while other parts are outsourced.

Specific Services:

  • Audio Digitization - Memnon has a complete range of equipment for reading a wide range of sound formats. We make it our business to constantly acquire equipment of all kinds and have extensive experience of working with delicate and complex formats and innovative new techniques.
  • Video Digitization - Memnon is committed to providing high quality cleaning and processing to enhance media quality while ensuring authenticity of the original content, fast transfer through latest automated preservation processes and excellent cost efficiency.
  • Film Digitization - Film digitization is a sensitive and delicate task requiring a great deal of knowledge and know how. Our highly qualified team handles your material with care and puts all its skills to restore, clean, repack, synchronize sound, catalog and digitize your collections.
  • Restoration and Treatment - Memnon ensures authenticity of the original content through latest, cost efficient and excellent preservation processes by high quality cleaning and treatment, a large panel of media quality enhancements and restoration of the recordings.
  • QC & Delivery - Thanks to its 25-year history in the sector, the company delivers the highest quality in industrial processes and quality control methodologies trough industry and Memnon proprietary tools.
  • Metadata Management, Content Indexation and Enrichment - We help to create, manage and consolidate from different source of metadata in the digitization and we can enrich your context based information with various automated processes.
  • Project Management - To meet expectations precisely, we draw up detailed specifications with the clients representatives prior to the initiation of the project. Safeguarding of the collections fidelity and integrity is a must in any of our logistic and production processes. Specific procedures are in place to ensure a controlled and secured environment and all our employees are well aware of the cultural and historical value of materials and of the sensitivity to content’s nature.
  • Workflow and Tools - Based on the unique expertise in handling large scale digitization and physical carrier handling, Memnon’s in-house R&D unit has develop proprietary workflow management platform and unique toolsets to advance, monitor and manage the entire workflow and carrier handling through the entire process.
  • Cataloguing and Collections Planning - Memnon offers clients support and services for Cataloguing and Collections Planning process. This is often the very first setup to assess what exists in the archives, and to prepare and sort the collections for an accurate quote and shipment planning.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) is an independent conservation laboratory specializing in the conservation and preservation of paper-based collections. NEDCC provides professional conservation treatment for books, maps, photographs, documents, parchment, papyrus, manuscripts, architectural plans, and works of art on paper. NEDCC’s Imaging Services department provides digital imaging services and specializes in rare, historic, and oversize materials, as well as X-Ray Film scanning and reformatting for black and white and color negative films and color transparencies.

Northern Micrographics has over 60 years experience partnering with clients in library, academic, commercial and industrial markets to provide superior preservation imaging products and services. They scan a variety of object types including bound and disbound volumes, photos, maps, microfilm and microfiche. Northern Micrographics can also help place digital collections online with custom software products, ProSeek® and PhotoAtlasTM. They also offer a variety of other services including microfilming, microfilm duplication, metadata development, data conversions, hosting and book binding. Contact Northern Micrographics at 800-236-0850 or at sales@nmt.com to learn more.

SALOMON MASTERING & RESTORATION is an audio studio / laboratory, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dedicated to mastering, conservation and restoration of collections of sound documents, recorded in different media and old formats, for organizations and archival institutions. The audio engineer Néstor Salomón also provides consulting services for archival organizations and record labels. Website: www.nestorsalomon.com - Tel / Whatsapp: +1 787 949-9065 - Email: nestorsalomon_ar@hotmail.com

Stanford University Libraries (SUL) Digitization Services is a fully-integrated service provider tailored to meet libraries, archives and museums’ heterogeneous collection needs. SUL digitization services support three families of content format: paper-based materials, audiovisual media and born-digital files.

SUL Digitization Services offers:

  • Digitization of original materials;
  • Large format scanning and image stitching;
  • Reformatting of audio and moving image content;
  • Reformatting and recovery of files from digital media;
  • Preservation-quality master file creation;
  • Derivative file creation for discovery and access;
  • Secure storage and handling of original materials;
  • OCR text processing in plain text, ALTO or PDF;
  • Project consultation and planning;
  • RFP consultation and vendor management;
  • Onsite digitization for fragile content;
  • Long-term preservation; and
  • Content hosting and discovery solutions.

Stanford University Library's digitization services are provided by Digital Library Systems and Services. For inquiries regarding digitization services, contact digitization-contact@lists.stanford.edu. SUL Digitization Services' brochure provides full details for potential partners.

Two Cat Digital has been providing world-class digital imaging and consulting services since 2003 with a particular emphasis on cultural heritage institutions and materials. Their passion is in designing and managing efficient digitization workflows, and for helping clients bring their valuable collections to light. Two Cat clients include hundreds of institutions including museums, libraries, universities, government agencies, architects, photographers and non-profit organizations. For additional information contact Two Cat at info@twocatdigital.com.

If you would like to suggest a resource for inclusion on this page, send your suggestion to info@diglib.org. The DLF is currently seeking professionals from DLF member institutions who would like to participate in a working group to develop and maintain the content of this page. Prospective volunteers for this group should also send expressions of interest to DigiWiki@clir.org.