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Digitizing - Standards and Best Practices

Q. What standards and best practices should I follow?

Numerous standards and best practices exist for a wide range of digitization activities. Using standards and best practices ensures that you are building on the successes and wisdom of the preservation community.

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  • Become familiar with key standards and best practices



This video discusses and demonstrates practical digital preservation frameworks that protect images throughout the entire production life-cycle. It demystifies the alphabet soup of file formats, data standards, and parametric imaging, and demonstrates proven workflows that can be deployed in any museum production environment, scalable from the individual part time shooter to full fledged imaging departments. (NB: If this video does not play in Firefox, try another browser such as Google Chrome.)


This volume is intended to serve as a guide for practitioners in cultural heritage institutions that seek to create images from physical objects.  Originally published by the Colorado Digitization Program in 2003 as the Western States Digital Imaging Best Practices, this updated version reflects the many changes that have occurred in the field up to 2008 and remains relevant today.

Use the menu list on the right to access A. Digitization Chain, B. Image Creation, C. File Management, and D. Delivery.

Aims to offer domain-specific advice on standards relevant to digital preservation and curation, to help curators identify which standards they should be using and where they can be appropriately implemented, and to ensure authoritative digital material.
Aims to offer domain-specific advice on standards relevant to digital preservation and curation, to help curators identify which standards they should be using and where they can be appropriately implemented, and to ensure authoritative digital material.
This report provides the Library of Congress best practices for imaging text and graphic materials.
The NARA Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access define approaches for creating digital surrogates for facilitating access and reproduction. Provides references to guidance on the creation and management of durable copies of information, including paper records, microfilm, photographs, and digital images.
Lays out the Case for Good Practice, explains the history, principles, and methodology of the NINCH Guide, and provides a how-to for the guide.
These guidelines are structured to help you successfully initiate digital projects. Chapters 1 and 2 provide direction on the essential initial stages of a digitization project. Chapter 3 uncovers some of the major components of United States copyright law as it pertains to digitization, including suggestions and recommendations for activities to undertake to ensure compliance with the law. Chapter 4 outlines the details for creating digital images of your materials. Included are decision-making matrices for hardware and software as well as the technical standards endorsed by NC ECHO. Chapter 5 introduces the concept of metadata and outlines standards for constructing appropriate and adequate metadata to accompany your digital images. Metadata ensures access to your materials in the Internet environment. Chapter 6 introduces the issue of a long-term persistence of your digital project, including recommendations about storage practices and mediums. Chapter 7 covers issues of web design and accessibility to ensure that the hard work of digital production and metadata is not lost in poor presentation on the Internet. Chapter 8 deals with the specific issues that are important in creating digital projects that will be primarily used by as an educational resource. Chapter 9 discusses the components of evaluation to take into consideration throughout the life of a digital project. Finally, Chapter 10 discusses the very real impact of digital projects on institutions. This chapter includes sections on workflow and staffing, training, timelines and objectives, physical facilities, and disaster preparedness.
This resource list focuses on the formal standards.  To help you monitor new technology developments, the list cites specialized Web sites for finding standards and describes the organizations most involved in developing and maintaining digital imaging standards.  Digital project managers can also use this list for help in selecting practical tools such as targets to ensure effective scanning and file preservation.
  • UKOLN.  "Good Practice Guide for Developers of Cultural Heritage Web Services."  Last updated July 21, 2008.
    Provides advice on standards and best practices to organisations involved in the development of cultural heritage Web services by combining content on advice provided by the NOF-digitise Technical Advisory Service (and others) to projects funded by the NOF-digitise programme, QA Focus Documents created by UKOLN, and policy and advice informed by UKOLN work.
Introduces three standards for digital preservation: OAIS, METS, and NISO Data Dictionary.
This document, prepared for UNESCO under contract with the National Library of Australia, introduces general and technical guidelines for the preservation and continuing accessibility of the ever growing digital heritage of the world.  This document is intended to be a companion volume of the Draft Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage.

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