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Digitizing - Selection Criteria

Q. How should I select materials for digitization?

Selecting which materials you would like to digitize involves examining a number of different criteria. You will need to develop criteria that suit your individual purposes, but as you do, consider whether or not digitizing particular content fits in with your institution's mission statement and whether or not you can preserve and provide access to the content.


Take action

  • Review other institution's selection criteria for digitization
  • Develop and document your own selection criteria for digitization



Andrea Jackson, Archivist at the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center explains how the RWWL selected documents for the HBCU digital collection.
Interview with the coordinator of the French digital library Gallica.  Discusses the work and goals of Gallica, copyright restrictions, criteria for selection (around 5:54), the need for standards, and the future of libraries.


Review use cases

From the webpage: "This policy provides a collection development framework for the Library's digitization projects. It is intended to offer guidance in understanding how our digitization work reflects and supports collection development at Dartmouth in broad terms and it sets out criteria to help determine if potential use warrants the human and fiscal resources necessary to undertake the digital project. The policy's aim is to create a consistent, structured approach to reformatting our collections. Whether digitization is done at the object level or at the collection level, the framework remains the same."
Begins by answering the question, "Why do you need to assess material?" and then references some previous studies.  Defines various classes of material and suggests evaluation based on need and feasibility.
Includes sections on Determining Your Selection Criteria, Documenting Your Selection Criteria, a Conclusion, and suggestions for Further Reading.
The Southern Historical Collection staff "use archival theory and practice" to frame their digitization activities. "In digitizing the collection, the SHC staff employs the archival principle of provenance: organizing and maintaining the individual collections based on the origins of the materials, rather than piecing together new collections of selected documents based on topics, geography, or chronology, or other characteristics." This site discusses how the SHC determines the order in which items are digitized and what the keys issues are for each collection. The site also provides a decision matrix.
Offers criteria in the categories of Collection Development, Preservation/Archiving, Organizational/funding, and Access.



Considers selection criteria, content value, intellectual property rights, and technical aspects.
Covers such issues as copyright, potential use, format, and cost and benefits. This volume includes a thoughtful decision-making matrix.
Discusses selection criteria of value, condition, characteristics of originals, acceptability of the resulting digital object, and access aids.
  • National Information Standards Organization. Framework Working Group.  "A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections."  3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: NISO, December 2007.
Provides an overview, identifies existing resources, and encourages community participation in developing best practices. Aimed at both cultural heritage organizations and funding organizations.
From the Introduction: "This article presents the results of a close reading of current practices and guidelines for digitisation, in an attempt to further the movement towards greater consensus on this issue. From the existing myriad approaches found in the field, the article formulates a set of common criteria for selection by way of a sector-independent longlist. In this way the article illustrates the complex nature of selection, which may be seen to depend upon significantly greater number of criteria than have so far been put forward in any single guiding document, but it also proposes a base-terminology that can be used in any institutional setting. Thus, it puts forward a possible common ground for selection practices and argues that the adoption of a more uniform language, and a more open and communicative approach, may not only help structure the decision-making process but is also a vital part of good governance."
Acknowledges the changes in scale and quality that have resulted from mass digitization projects, considers preservation strategies, and calls for greater collaboration.
Considers the issues you need to examine when selecting material -- whether selecting physical originals for digitization, or reviewing born digital materials for preservation or republication -- as well as how to ensure that this process takes into account the aims and characteristics of your organization, the profile and needs of your users, and the characteristics of your collections.
Synthesizes the experiences of libraries in digitizing collections, offers several case studies, and questions which sorts of collections should be prioritized for digitization.
The questions and choices reflected here will assist the ultimate decision to accept or reject long-term preservation responsibility.


Last updated on 10/03/13, 2:20 pm by emilykader



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