Digitizing Special Formats

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This list of resources has been 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 [1] program of the Council on Library and Information Resources [2] 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 special formats.


General Resources

The Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (or FADGI) [3] is a collaboratively maintained clearinghouse of information related to digitization, from project planning [4], to digital file formats [5], to technical specifications [6]. FADGI was launched in 2007 under the auspices of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Two working groups develop FADGI outcomes: (1) the Still Image Working Group [7] produces guidelines for creating digital images of cultural heritage materials; and (2) the Audio-Visual Working Group [8] covers the digitization of analog audio and audiovisual recordings as well as the digital reformatting of born-digital audio or audiovisual content.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) [9] developed the Principles to Guide Vendor/Publisher Relations in Large-Scale Digitization Projects of Special Collections Materials [10] in 2010 to help institutions build strong working relationships with commercial partners while creating broad access to their collections.

Working with the Digital Library Federation [11] Assessment Group, Joyce Chapman at the State Library of North Carolina developed the Library Digitization Cost Calculator [12] using data collected by Duke University, the University of Alabama, and the Triangle Research Libraries Network. The tool helps professionals create rough estimates for still image digitization of archival collections.

Format-Specific Resources

--Text Best Practices for TEI in Libraries [13] provides a recent (2011) overview of possible approaches to incorporating encoded text into large-scale digitization projects.

--Newspapers The "Guidelines and Resources" [14] page on the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) website [15] provide detailed and up-to-date information about best practices for digitizing newspapers and making newspaper content broadly accessible and discoverable. The NDNP is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress. The NEH operates the National Digital Newspaper funding initiative [16], which offers grants specifically for newspaper digitization.

--Rare Books & Manuscripts The International Federation of Library Associations [17] (IFLA) Rare Book and Special Collections Section [18] published its Guidelines for Planning the Digitization of Rare Book and Manuscript Collections [19] in 2014, covering project design, metadata creation, dissemination, and project assessment.

--Photographs The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) Core Standard Specification [20] is a widely used metadata standard for describing photographs and includes details about embedding metadata into digital image files.

--Audio and Audiovisual Recordings




The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) [21] has compiled a Digital Preservation Reading List [22] that provides a thorough introduction to the challenges of digital preservation as they relate to cultural heritage collections. Additional links to resources related to digital preservation are provided on NEDCC's website [23].

Thanks to the WikiProject Digital Preservation [24], the information about digital preservation on Wikipedia [25] is substantial and current.

The National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) [26] has published the 2015 NDSA National Agenda for Digital Stewardship [27], which provides a broad overview of current "challenges, opportunities, gaps, and trends" related to building and maintaining digital collections in the United States.