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About This Guide

Digitization Program Planning

I. Contributors

The Digital Transitions Division of Cultural Heritage (DTDCH) is deeply grateful for contributions from an extensive group of individuals and institutions. Since the earliest days of digitization there has been a strong tradition of collaboration within the Cultural Heritage community; we have great clients and industry partners, and their participation in the creation of this document was an invaluable and greatly appreciated continuation of this tradition.

Julie Ainsworth, Folger Shakespeare Library Head, Photography and Digital Imaging

Justyna Badach, Philadelphia Museum of Art Photography Studio Manager

Chad S. Barker, Church History Library Manager, Preservation Planning & Operations

Ian Bogus, University of Penn. Libraries MacDonald Curator of Preservation

Colleen A Carlton, UCLA South. Regional Library Director

Nicole Comforto, Library for All Director of Educational Resources

Bradley Daigle, University of Virginia Director of Digital Curation Services

Bethany Davis, University of Iowa Libraries Digital Processing Coordinator Librarian

Noah Durham, National Archives, United States Supervisory Imaging Specialist

Brad Flowers, Dallas Museum of Art Head Photographer

Graham Haber, The Morgan Library & Museum Photographer

David Holbert, Smithsonian Libraries Imaging Specialist    

Barbara Katus, Penn. Academy of the Fine Arts Manager of Imaging Services

Nancy Kraft, University of Iowa Libraries Head of Preservation and Conservation

Courtney O’Callaghan, Freer|Sackler, Smithsonian Chief Digital Officer

Eric Philcox, Pixel Acuity CEO

Jeff Rubin, Tulane University Digital Library Digital Initiatives

Eric Shows, New York Public Library Assistant Manager, Digital Imaging Unit

Jennifer Hain Teper, U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Head of Preservation Services

Keri Thompson, Smithsonian Libraries Digital Projects Librarian

Marge Thompson, Rasmuson Library, U. of Alaska Manager of Digital Photographic Services

John Tsantes, Freer|Sackler, Smithsonian Head/Imaging & Photographic Services

James R. Voelkel, Othmer Library of Chem. History Curator of Rare Books

Lawrence Wentzel, University of Michigan Associate Librarian

Don Williams, Image Science Associates CEO


II. Why Another Guide?

In our experience most Cultural Heritage Imaging documentation falls into one of two categories:

  • Oversimplified: Basic step-by-step instructions which only explain “how” not “why.”
  • Over-elaborated: Technical manifestos like the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) are very lengthy and heavy on math and theory, but light on practical methodology.

Most of the over-elaborated guides lack practical methodology because they were written from a completely equipment-agnostic point of view. This equipment neutrality was vital to their intention as they were written by committees and organizations that have policies against recommending any particular brand or solution even if they had a strong preference. The Cultural Heritage community benefits from having such technical guidelines written independent of any make/model of equipment. This approach, however, leaves any given institution at a loss for exactly what methods/workflows to follow to achieve these guidelines using their specific equipment.

We wanted to provide something in between these two extremes: a comprehensive, but practical, treatise on Cultural Heritage Digitization made specifically for those using DTDCH hardware and software. This is not, and cannot be, a how-to guide; every institution has different guidelines to meet. Instead, the goal of this document is to be a reference guide for most of the topics that require consideration when organizing, reorganizing, or evaluating a digitization program.

Our team, the Digital Transitions Division of Cultural Heritage specializes in hardware, software, and workflows for digitization. Because of this we’ve had the pleasure of working with a large quantity and variety of institutions of Cultural Heritage during the planning and production of a digitization program. We work in this field because we believe the preservation of our shared cultural heritage is a sacred duty owed to future generations. Above all else, we hope that this document, springing from our experience, and the input of our many valued customers, can contribute, in some small way, to that noble goal.

Please Note: This document is designed as a framework to allow for continual contributions, to ensure it will not become obsolete. To contribute, offer a correction, or suggest an addition please contact DTDCH Director, Peter Siegel, at [email protected].


III. Where’s the Metadata?

We have chosen not to include an in-depth discussion of metadata in the scope of this document. However, this does not indicate its lack of importance. In fact, the opposite is true; metadata is fundamental to a Preservation Digital Object. Proper selection of metadata sets, metadata vocabulary, and metadata workflows are so vital to a successful digitization program that these topics could easily justify their own stand-alone document of equal length. The broad and essential topic of metadata is simply too broad and important to be included in the scope of this document.

“Embarking upon a full scale digitization effort without any provision for metadata is irresponsible at best.”

-Bradley Daigle, University of Virginia, Director of Digital Curation Services

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