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Why should or shouldn’t I digitize materials?

Digitization can provide greater access to materials and can also help preserve them by reducing their handling. It can also make "invisible" collections visible. Beyond discovery, digitization can provide the data for new types of scholarship and analysis. Digitization also fosters integration of related materials from multiple institutions in virtual collections. However, not all materials can and should be digitized. Taking the challenges of digitization into consideration is important before embarking on a large-scale digitization project.


  • Puntoni, Pedro.  "Public Institutions Must Ensure Public Spaces on the Internet."  FLi Multimidia, 9:39, April 2010. 

Interview with historian and coordinator of the Brasiliana USP project.

  • Library of Congress. "Bridging Physical and Digital Preservation."  YouTube, 4:50.  Posted March 7, 2011. 

This video compares the physical and digital preservation of the Waldseemuller Map.


  • Smith, Lucy, and Rowley, Jennifer. Digitisation of local heritage: Local studies collections and digitisation in public libraries. (2012). Journal of Librarianship & Information Science, 44 Issue, 272-280.

“This study explores the application of digitisation in the context of public library local studies services. Since there has been limited previous research on digitisation and local studies collections, this research makes an important contribution in profiling the current situation, and highlighting the extent to which progress is limited in the digitisation of valuable local studies collections. A two-phased approach was adopted, including a website analysis, and semi-structured interviews with 12 local studies librarians and three other key informants. Findings indicate that the local studies services have established a limited online presence, and have used digitisation to some extent to promote and improve accessibility to their collections. All interviewees appreciated the potential of digitisation, but digitisation has not been adopted as a major strategy for preservation, due to lack of funding, and concerns about the longevity of digital records.” [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]

  • Velarde, Daniel. (2013). Illusion and Achievement in Open-Access Digitization. Feliciter, 59, 37-39.

"The article looks at visionary ideas and achievements of open-access (OA) library digitization projects in Canada. According to the author, a national OA library faces barriers including copyright, a digital deficit and the need for a workable business model for reliable service delivery. The author describes Canadian academic Michael Geist's vision of a national OA library. The author notes that public funding is not a sustainable way to support OA."

  • Ilesanmi, Titilayo Comfort. (2013). Digitization of Journal Collections in Libraries: A Case Study of Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 23, 35-45.

"Digitization of journal collections in libraries is inevitable with the advent of Information Communication Technology (ICT). There is a need to digitize journals in the academic library in order to preserve and to give wider visibility and accessibility to information resources for teaching, learning, and research. This article describes the processes of journal collection digitization in Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan. Underfunding and copyright clearance are the challenges encountered, among others. The study recommends adequate funding and concludes that the benefit of instant access to digital information is the most distinguishing attribute in this present information age." [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]

  • Byrd, Sam. (2012). Richmond Architectural Surveys: Choices in Digitization. Virginia Libraries, 58, 23-25.

"The article discusses the problems encountered by the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries during the process of digitizing materials contained in a collection of architectural survey materials, titled the Richmond Architectural Survey (RAS). The article states that the university received the collection in 2008 and needed to decide how to organize the archive, which factors in the physical material and the digital asset management software used to archive the material."

  • Opar, Barbara Ann. (2012). Discard to Retention: A specialized evaulation and digitization project for architecture slides at Syracuse University. Visual Resources Association Bulletin, 39, 1-4.

"Syracuse University Library established a committee to determine the future of the slide collection. In contrast to other departments, the School of Architecture took all architecture related material in order to secure more time for evaluation. This case study presents an overview of the process and resulting decisions." [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

  • Conway, Paul.  (2000). Overview: Rationale for Digitization and Preservation. Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access. Andover, MA: NEDCC, 2000. 

"This chapter provides a foundation for understanding the preservation implications of digital conversion projects. Following a brief description of the advantages and disadvantages of digital technologies, the author defines preservation in the digital context and describes how the underlying principles of traditional preservation practice relate to the creation of digital products."

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