New Digital Initiatives Guidelines

Basic Digitization Guidelines/Questions


  1. Are you creating a new collection or adding content to an existing collection?
  2. Is the content unique (not available in any other format for free or for purchase)?
    • If the content is not unique, is the cost of digitization (personnel and materials) less than the cost of purchase?
  3. Is there a demand for this content?
  4. What is the benefit of having this material digitized?
  5. Is the original material damaged or fragile?


The purpose for digitization will guide many of the decisions made in the following sections. For example, digitization for preservation can mean that you may not need to worry about the same types of access files you would need for distribution online, and that there may be fewer copyright and intellectual property limitations. Each case will be different, depending on a number of factors.

Some examples of purpose are:

  1. Access
  2. Preservation
  3. Special event
  4. Publication
  5. Others?

Copyright Clearance

The answer to one or more of these questions does not necessarily preclude digitization. However, they should be answered in every case.

  1. Is the material under copyright?
  2. How will it be used and what is the purpose for digitization?
  3. Can you digitize and serve the materials under a Fair Use exception?
  4. Can you serve the entire material, or only a percentage of it?
  5. Has sufficient due diligence been performed to make sure FIU libraries are operating within the law?

Access Restrictions

  1. Can these materials be accessed openly or do restrictions need to be in place?
  2. If materials need to be restricted, what type of restriction do they need?
    • IP (location based)
    • Authentication
      • What types of authentication are possible? Does authentication need to be tied in to any other system?
  3. Do the current systems allow for access restrictions, and if not, does the Systems department or another group need to be involved in possible development conversations?


  1. How are the digitized items tracked through the process?
    • A tracking system is highly recommended even if it is a simple spreadsheet or SharePoint. The DCC uses several methods to track the progress of a digitization project, including a tracking system that stores simple metadata and workflow progress for all items digitized.
  2. Are you using unique identifiers to name your objects and digital files?
    • It is highly recommended that the identifiers not only be unique but also consistent. A long-term plan for possible future digital objects should be kept in mind when deciding on a convention. The DCC uses a standard convention of FI[MMDDYY##]
  3. Are there multiple identifiers?
    • These may be kept in addition to your identifier or been replaced by your own identifier. There may be pros and cons to each option. 
  4. Is it important to be able to run reports and/or statistics for these files?
    • Consider, even if they are not immediately relevant, it may be a future need.


  1. Are the items born digital or will they need to be digitized?
  2. If items are born digital, are transformations needed (e.g. OCR, cleanup, file format changes)?
  3. What are the standard preservation and dissemination file types for the particular material you are digitizing? The Florida Digital Archive has a set of requirements for preservation file types. This should be considered before digitization or format changes. 
  4. What will be the structure for your digital object? (e.g. a single photograph, a group of photographs, audio and associated text, a book with many pages…)?
  5. What type of equipment will be needed to digitize?
  6. Are there special requirements for handling the material?
  7. Can the analog material suffer physical damage or be dismantled for the digitization process?
  8. Where, and who will be digitizing?

Metadata Creation

  1. Are there existing metadata/catalog records in one form or another?
  2. What is the appropriate metadata schema(s) for this item?
  3. What metadata schemas are supported by the system you plan to use?
  4. If there is existing metadata but it does not fit the schema needed, will a crosswalk be needed?
    • If so, this may require some programming and lots of conversation/collaboration to make sure no information is lost in the process.


  1. Which is the best system(s) for hosting your digital material to maximize user discover and access?
    • It is helpful to consider interoperability for present and future needs.
  2. Are you creating PURLs for your digital material, or that handled by the system you are using?
  3. What are the possible mechanisms for getting metadata from the system you are using into the catalog?
  4. Is there already available intellectual control through finding aids, links to bibliographic records, or indices/bibliographies?


Preservation includes the storage of digital media along with a mode of identification and access. Without proper information about a digital artifact, and an easy way to retrieve it, the item is not truly preserved.

  1. What level of preservation is most appropriate?
    • Minimum (very risky)
      • Gold CD/DVD
    • Medium (pretty risky)
      • Gold CD/DVD
      • Network storage
    • High (safe)
      • Gold CD/DVD
      • Network storage
      • Florida Digital Archive (FDA)