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 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 DigiWiki@clir.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 DigiWiki@clir.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.


Newspaper Collections

Enhancing Access and Discoverability

This section curated by Tamsyn Rose-Steel, CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Medieval Studies.

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

This section curated by Tamsyn Rose-Steel, CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Medieval Studies.



Digital Reformatting


Audio and Audiovisual

  • 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."
  • 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.

ViPIRS has been developed for magnetic media, which includes modules for videotape, audiocassettes, and 1/4" reel-to-reel.

Still Image

Copyright and Intellectual Property

This section curated by Nicholas Graham and Lisa Gregory of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.


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).

Education and Training Opportunities

  • 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 DigiWiki@clir.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.