Digitization Project FAQ: Part 2

This is a continuation of the Digitization Project FAQ.

4. What metadata do you have for these items?

Look at the metadata available in the catalog. Consider descriptive metadata about the items and collection: will what you have currently suffice for the project, or will users of the site want additional metadata? If more metadata is desired, who will find or create it? Does it exist somewhere else or does it have to be created from scratch? Consider who will have to cull/create it, and the amount of time/effort needed to do that.

Also consider the need for preservation metadata: information that documents the condition of the object at the time of digitization, and what methods, equipment, software are used, what changes are made to provide the files online.

Identifying materials. Every item in the collection must be distinguishable from each other. Normally we use barcodes (in some cases, they are required), but other systems of unique IDs can be used, as long as they are consistent.

When to create metadata. We prefer to have as much metadata gathered/created as possible before digitization. Metadata can be gathered during or after digitization, but it can increase the length and cost of the project, or delay the launch of the project. There is the possibility of crowdsourcing the metadata, allowing online users to supply information. Is this a possibility of your collection, would it even be desirable?

5. What are the rights/permissions of these items?

Read the "Gathering Legal Information for Digitizing Projects" document. Find out if there are any copyrighted materials in your collection. Check published items for the publication/printing/creation dates. For donated items, look at the deeds of gift. Copyright and rights permissions have a direct bearing on where the digital files can be hosted, if at all (see "which platform should I use for my project?").

As new materials come to your collections, ask for right to digitize and provide access in advance. Otherwise, the Library will have to consider whether the digitization can be claimed as an exercise of fair use, which takes time.

6. What funding options are available to help support any aspect of the project?

When it comes to funding digitization, most people default to funding the actual digitization phase of the project. However, every aspect of the project can be supported financially, or have costs offset by outside funding. This would include: preparation of the original materials for digitization; creating or updating metadata and cataloging; conservation of the physical objects before or after digitization; web/interface design; and long-term upkeep of the digitized files (servers cost money to operate every year).

If departmental funds are not available, the next best option is to write grants. Most digitization grants will provide money to support certain costs and require the institution to bear the remainder. Some grants will only cover particular aspects, such as metadata and cataloging. Regardless, funding of any aspect is better than none.

Also, consider asking your stakeholders for support. They might be willing to fund any part of the project. If you talk to the stakeholders about your proposal in advance, you may be able to get some funding before the project starts.  

7. What other support is available?

Funding may not be available, but being able to offer manpower and expertise to help with different aspects of the project is always welcome. For example, DCU works directly with the digitization vendors to handle shipping, receiving, performing QC, and corrections. If you have experience or want to work with the vendor directly, that helps us.

  • Staff to create/update metadata, Mirlyn records, or finding aids
  • Staff to work with the Copyright Office on rights and permissions;
  • Staff to prepare items for digitization (packing, shipping, printing inventories);
  • Staff to review the digitized items once they come back from the vendor;
  • Staff to create exhibits in Omeka
  • Staff to handle public relations and other announcements to promote your project.


8. Is there a schedule or sequence of events to be mindful of?

Write down any goals or deadlines that have to be met - progress reports, collection unveiling, when final reports/statistics are needed, etc. Collection owners should be aware that DCU can process ~100 items/month, whether prepped for inhouse or vended scanning.

Also, be mindful of your stakeholders. Who has an interest/investment in seeing the collection digitized? What expectations and demands might they have? What say do they have in the project? Would they be willing to fund any part of the project? If the possibility of funding exists, talk to the stakeholders about your proposal and get their support in advance.

Next step

Return to the "Starting a Digitization Project" page and go on to step 2.

Page maintained by Kat Hagedorn
Last modified: 01/22/2013