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Digital Objects: By Material Type

From photographing Hopi pottery to scanning a Revolutionary War era map, the process of creating digital objects is exciting, but also time-consuming. This page will explore the resources necessary to produce digital objects as well as explore the many material types that might be part of a digitization project.

Hardware, Software, and Technical Aspects

From scanners and digital cameras to huge hard drives, librarians need to consider the equipment necessary to complete a digitization project. Each situation is unique. High school students might use an iPhone on a tripod to photograph school trophies, while academic library technicians might use a sophisticated imaging system to capture a 360 view of an ancient Peruvian artifact.

The photo below shows a person using an iPhone to record video. Photo by Fuzheado, Wikimedia Commons.


The Hardware and Software

Explore the following websites that detail equipment used by various libraries for digitization projects. Create your own master list of hardware and software depending on your area of interest.

try itTry It!
Go to The Tool Grid. Explore the vast array of tools available for preservation.

Increasingly, academic libraries are establishing centers for digital activities.

Read Lippincott, Joan, Hemmasi, Harriette, & Lewis, Vivian Marie (June 16, 2014). Trends in digital scholarship centers. EDUCAUSEreview. Available online.

Read Alexander, Whitney & Holt, David Brian. So you want to digitize? Santa Clara University. Digital Commons. Available Online.

Many collections house materials of a variety of types. For example, the Arizona Latina Trailblazers (MWDL, Raúl H. Castro Institute and Latino Perspectives) including texts, images, audio recordings, and video recordings.

try itTry It
Go to the Colorado Plateau Digital Archives Selections (MWDL, Northern Arizona University - Cline Library). Notice the wide range of items available in this collection.

Technical Support

In most cases, digitization is only a small part of a librarian's job. Support is needed to make a digitization project a success. While there may be a need for highly technical support in some areas of a project such as setting up web servers, volunteers with little technical background make be able to assist in activities such as scanning.

Consider collaborating with other libraries or members of the community.

Read Harris, Lakegan (April 14, 2014). Collaborative digitization in the USGS libraries. USGS Library. Available online. Think about individuals who would enjoy or benefit from the digitization experience.

Technical Guidelines and Specifications

Whether scanning a photograph or converting an old audiotape, it's important to follow strict standards in producing files. Explore the following technical specifications pages.

For many more examples, go to the Digital Conversion Guidelines from the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative.

try itTry It
Examine the technical specifications from a variety of sources. Then, build your own.

Materials Types

notepadWhen planning digitization projects, it's important to think about the types of materials available.

Then, create guidelines and policies related to each of these materials types.

Let's explore the different materials types.

sheet musicDigital Library Spotlight

is a digital collection featuring sheet music of the 19th and early 20th century.

: A Duke University Libraries collection, this resource includes digital images of over 3,000 pieces of music. Users can locate sheet music by composer, date, subject, instrumentation, illustrator, lyricist, publisher, and title.

Connections: Connect the music and social studies teachers for an engaging interdisciplinary project. Ask students to connect a piece of music to the time period when it was published. Use the subject search option to identify songs related to women, landscapes, entertainment, fashion, animals, society, transportation, and other interesting topics.

Featured Digital Objects
Indiana http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/hasm_a0093/
That Railroad Rag http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/hasm_a0013/
My Pony Boy http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/hasm_a1110/
To visit the collection, go to http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/hasm/.

Artifacts and Realia

"In AACR2, (an object is) a three-dimensional artifact, replica of an artifact, or naturally occurring entity. In the British list of general material designations, the term also includes dioramas, games, microscope slides, models, and realia" (Reitz, 2014).

Three-dimensional objects are often incorporated into digital collections. Because we don't want to confuse the concept of "objects" with "digital objects," let's use the terms artifacts and realia to describe this category of items. From ancient coins to animal bones, a library may be involved in digitizing a wide range of artifacts and realia.

Key Concepts

coinAccording to Reitz (2014), an artifact is

"an object made or modified by the work of one or more persons (replicas excluded), as distinct from a natural object, called a specimen when collected. Objects created for their aesthetic value are considered works of art. The value to collectors of an item as a physical object is usually reduced by any modification. Artifacts are studied for their historical value."

The image on the right shows a coin. Image by Marie-Lan Nguyen(User:Jastrow), Wikimedia Commons.

Realia is defined as

"three-dimensional objects from real life, whether man-made (artifacts, tools, utensils, etc.) or naturally occurring (specimens, samples, etc.), usually borrowed, purchased, or received as gifts by a library for use in classroom instruction or in exhibits. Archival and manuscript collections often receive items of memorabilia such as jewelry, leather goods, needlework, etc., in connection with gifts of personal papers" (Reitz, 2014).

From pieces of petrified wood to petri dishes filled with living organisms, a specimen is defined as

"a single individual or member of a group or class selected as an example or sample of the whole, for example, an item of a specific type selected to represent a group of items, or an entire collection, in a library display or exhibit" (Reitz, 2014).

Not all libraries identify their items in the same way. For instance, Arizona Military Museum Images (MWDL, Arizona Military) contains many photos of artifacts from their museum. They identify the type as "image" and the original format as "museum exhibit".

Digital Library Spotlight
The Memorial Hall Museum Online contains a wealth of digitized artifacts. From dolls and bicycles to pianos and a chamber pot, the collection includes a wide range of fascinating items.

Creating Digital Objects

While some flat items such as needlework and coins can be scanned, most three-dimensional objects are photographed to create the digital object.


Explore examples of collections containing artifacts and realia.


Bronwyn Eves (2012) notes that people collect a wide range of textiles including clothing (e.g., wedding dresses, uniforms, hats, gloves), bags, tapestries, ceremonial artifacts, rugs, composite objects (e.g., medals with ribbons), flags, and furniture coverings (e.g., quilts, blankets, doilies). Each of these objects tells a story about where it’s from, who used it, how it was used, and why it was important. It’s important to preserve these objects because they can be threatened by light, temperature, dirt, handling, insects, storage materials, and theft.

Preserving the physical object including vacuuming, dry cleaning or wet cleaning depending on the item. Items that are framed should use acid free backing. Those not framed should not be exposed to light. Storage should be in a clean, dark, and stable (e.g., temperature, humidity) environment. Items may be stored in acid free boxes.

When photographing the item, it's important to consider the fragile nature of textiles.

360 Degree Photography and Interactive Web Display

Increasingly, librarians are looking beyond still images for digitizing artifacts.

Watch 360 Degree Photography and Interactive Web Display from the University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library.

tryitTry It!
View a few historical artifacts from the American Westward Migration collection at the University of Utah. Click the item, then scroll down and click on the "Click to open 3D viewer" option. A pop-up window will let you explore the image in 3D.

tryitTry It!
Browse the Conserve-O-Grams from the National Park Service. Notice the wide range of topics explored in this newsletter focusing on artifact preservation.

try itTry It!
Identify a collection that contains artifacts that have been photographed.
How do the digital representations of the artifacts relate to the original artifacts?
How would using the digital representations be like and unlike using the original?
What added-value does the digital representation bring to the content?

historical equipmentDigital Collection Spotlight

from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a digital collection focusing on historical artifacts related to science.

Contents: From optics and magnetism to induction and vacuum discharges, this digital collection includes a wide range of science equipment. The website is easy to use providing just a photograph and brief description of each item.

Connections: Library users interested in the history of science will find this collection appealing. Ask students to select one of the many historical artifacts to explore. Then, investigate whether this scientific instrument is still used or whether it’s been replaced.

Featured Digital Objects
Mystery Objects - https://goo.gl/y1VIu7
Object Index - https://goo.gl/4gBRTT
To visit the collection, http://www.unl.edu/physics/historical-scientific-instrument-gallery



Many digital collections contain images including photographs, lantern slides, posters, postcards, satellite images, and other graphic items.

Key Concepts

Read Carey, James L. (August 2008). Understanding Bit Depth. Conserve-O-Gram, 22(1). National Park Service.
Read Carey, James L. (August 2008). Understanding Digital Image Formats. Conserve-O-Gram, 22(2). National Park Service.
Read Carey, James L. (August 2008). Understanding PPI (Pixels Per Inch), DPI (Dots Per Inch), And Digital Display. Conserve-O-Gram, 22(3). National Park Service.
Read Carey, James L. (August 2008). Understanding Histograms for Digital Photography. Conserve-O-Gram, 22(4). National Park Service.
Burge, Daniel (2014). IPI Guide to Preservation of Digitally-Printed Photographs. Digital Print Preservation Portal. Image Permanence Institute.
For a more indepth exploration of this topic, explore the DP3 website.

Read at least TWO of the following items.

Besser, Howard. Introduction to Imaging. Revised Edition. Available online.

Hensley, Holly (July/August 2015). How to begin a digital photo collection. Computers in Libraries, 35(6), 4-10.

Minnesota Historical Society (2011). Digital Imaging for the Small Organization.

Personal Archiving: Digital Photographs from the Library of Congress.

Read Best Practices for Creating Digital Images from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Guidelines and Specifications for Images

While the guidelines and specifications for images are normally woven into the digital collection's general document, some collections have a separate document focusing specifically on images. A few couple including

try itTry It!
Explore Yale University's specification for digital images.
Develop your own specifications sheet.

Creating Digital Objects

Unless the item is digitally-born such as a satellite image, most items in this category are scanned to create a digital object.




Digital Library Spotlight
Most image collections maintain a set of guidelines for scanning and ingest. The Scanning and Ingest for Image Collections Online from Indiana University is an example. The include guidelines about creating an archival file, equipment requires, and scanned file delivery.

Watch Scanning from the Library of Congress.


According to Ying and Shuman (2015), images present unique challenges for those creating digital collections. The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) was designed to standardize image digital objects so they can more easily be shared. Institutions including Artstor, DPLA and Europeana are currently participating in this approach for their collections.

Read Ying, William & Shulman, James (July/August 2015). “Bottled or tap?” A map for integrating International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) into shared shelf and Artstor. D-Lib Magazine, 21(7/8). Available online.
Read the blog posting Magnuson, Lauren (February 25, 2016). Store and display high resolution images with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).


Digital images be digital born photographs or they may be scans of photographs, lantern slides, or other items such as postcards or posters.

Image files can be saved and shared many different ways:

science societyDigital Collection Spotlight

The SCIENCE & SOCIETY PICTURE LIBRARY is a visual collection that includes materials from three museums focusing on history, science, media, and railways.

Contents: The objects can be accessed by theme or collection. Themes include world wars, arctic expeditions, astronomy, and trains.

Connections: This library resource is helpful for users seeking images that connect science and society. Ask students to select a theme and explore the images. Then brainstorm questions related to a thematic collection or particular artifact. Use other resources to address the questions and share the results.

Featured Digital Objects
Arctic Exploration - https://goo.gl/Vjzwus
Trench Warfare - https://goo.gl/y4op5x
Horses - https://goo.gl/gqvq0I
To visit the collection, http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk

Issues in Digitization

Norris (2013c) suggests that digitization for preservation of photographs is a “good solution because it allows greater access and reduces handling”.

Read Norris, Debra Hess (2013b). Here, There and Everywhere. ALCTS Webinar Presentation. Available online. Pay attention to the different types of historical photographs.

Identification can be a problem with photographs, however there are clues that librarians can use to identify photographs. Graphics Atlas is a sophisticated resource that presents a unique, object-based approach for the identification and characterization of prints and photographs.

tryitTry It!
Go to Graphics Atlas. Work your way through the tour and learn to compare and identify historical photos.

Phototree notes that one way to identify the age of a photo is based on the type of photo. They identified five types form the 19th century including Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Cartes de Visite, and Cabinet Cards.

Read Identifying 19th Century Photograph Types. PhotoTree. Learn about each of the five types of 19th century photos by clicking on each link.
If you have time, explore some of their articles and other information about historical photos. It's fascinating.

To learn more, explore Reilly, James M. (1986). Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints. Image Permanence Institute.


glacierAerial Photographs and Satellite Imagery

The aerial glacier photo on the right was taken in Alaska and is available at the National Snow & Ice Data Center.


Lantern Slides


world war iPhotographs

The photo on the right above is an example from the Photohio website's Irvin Chamberlin World War I Collection.


explosives posterPosters

The photo on the right shows a US Government World War II era poster encouraging people to save fats for use in explosives.

Seals and Symbols

Digital Library Spotlight
Heroes and Villains: Silve Age Comics is a collection created in Omeka that features comic book covers. In this case, the images have been scanned as JPEG files. Clicking the thumbnail produces the enlarged version.

Read Yungclas, B., & Tedone, M. (2011). Digitizing Lantern Slides in the Warren H. Manning Collection. Microform & Digitization Review, 40(2), 68-70.

Other Useful Resources
Harpring, Patricia (2014). Categories for the Description of Works of Art. Getty Publications. Available online.
Porter, Vicki & Thornes, Robin. A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings. Getty Publications. Available online.

math forumDigital Collection Spotlight

is part of the Math Forum website. This digital collection contains images that visualize math concepts.

Contents: Users can explore pictures using the thumbnail gallery or by selecting a field of mathematics such as algebra, calculus, dynamic systems, fractals, or other topics.

Connections: Use this collection with math teachers as a way to connect with visual learners. Many of the images connect math concepts to real-world situations such as sounds or snowflakes.

Featured Digital Objects:
By Field - https://goo.gl/sf3lhz
By Thumbnails - https://goo.gl/HNS24O
To visit the collection, http://mathforum.org/mathimages.

Sound Recordings

reelWhether recording bird songs out in nature or converting a vinyl phonograph record, there are many ways to generate digital sound objects.

Listen to the 34 Philip Morris Play House (1950). It's one of thousands of sound recordings housed at the Internet Archive.

The image on the right shows a reel-to-reel audio tape by Tucvbif, Wikimedia Commons.

Key Concepts

According to Reitz (2014), the terms audio recording and sound recording are synonymous.

"(An audio recording is) a generic term for any medium on which sounds are recorded for mechanical or electronic playback, including phonograph records (vinyl), audiotape, and compact disc"...

"(A sound recording is) a generic term for sound vibrations that have been mechanically, electromagnetically, or digitally recorded onto a medium designed for playback with the aid of audio equipment. The category includes wax cylinders, phonograph records, audiotapes, compact discs, and the sound track on motion pictures, videorecordings, DVDs, etc. Libraries collect sound recordings of music and human speech (poetry, drama, speeches, interviews, broadcasts, audiobooks, etc.). The proceedings of meetings and conferences are sometimes recorded for archival purposes".

Guidelines and Specifications for Sound Recordings

While the guidelines and specifications for sound recording are normally woven into the digital collection's general document, some collections have a separate document focusing specifically on sound recordings. A few couple including

try itTry It!
Explore Yale University's specification for audiovisual recordings.
Develop your own specifications sheet.

Creating Digital Objects

An iPhone, a laptop computer, and a hand-held audio recorder are all tools that can be used to generate digital audio objects. From podcasts and music downloads, digitally born objects are increasingly being produced. Specialized tools can be used to convert old audiotapes, reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl records, and other aging medium to the digital format.


Read How to Digitize an LP. University of Texas, Austin.


Read Personal Archiving: Digital Audio from the Library of Congress.


Sound files can be created from audiotapes, reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl recordings, and other audio media. Sound files can be saved and shared many different ways:


Podcast and Radio Collections

Sound Collections

Read at least ONE of the following articles about audio recordings:

Brylawski, Sam, Lerman, Maya, Pike, Robin, Smith, Kathlin (eds.) (2015). ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Jackson, Derek J. (2013). Defining Minimum Standards for the Digitization of Speech Recordings on Audio Compact Cassettes. Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture, 42(2), 87-98.

Warren, Robert E., Maniscalco, Michael P., Schroeder, Erich K., Oliver, James S., Huitt, Sue, Lambert, Douglas, Frisch, Michael (Winter/Spring 2013). Restoring the human voice to oral history: the audio-video barn website. Oral History Review, 40(1), 107-125.

listen to natureDigital Collection Spotlight

is a large collection from the British Library including 400 sound recordings related to wildlife and the language of birds. Users can browse by location, animal group, or habitats.

Contents: A section of the website also includes information about the language of birds.

Connections: Encourage students to incorporate sounds into their animal projects.

Featured Digital Objects
Land Mammals https://goo.gl/oD3aUa
Animal Habitats https://goo.gl/WtqK5I
To visit the collection, http://www.bl.uk/listentonature/main.html.


From journal articles and books to letters and other written communications, the text category is large. While some people use the term "printed materials," this approach leaves out items that are digitally-born and may never be "printed" on paper. Unfortunately, the term text doesn't adequately describe those items that include photographs, drawings, and other visual elements. However, for the purposes of this section of the course, we'll just use the term text.

Some collections include a mixture of text types.

Digital Library Spotlight
The Beat Poetry, Broadsides, and Little Magazines (MWDL, Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library) collection includes a variety of self-published documents. Texts are more than books or articles, they may include leaflets, letters, diaries, and a variety of other types of written documents.

Boy's Hunting BookKey Concepts

According to Reitz (2014), the term text has multiple meanings.

"In a written, printed, or digital work, the words or (in the absence of words) signs or symbols used to express the author's thoughts, feelings, and ideas...

In library cataloging, the general material designation for printed material that can be read by the human eye without the aid of magnification, for example, a book, pamphlet, periodical, broadside, etc. For tactile materials, a qualifier is added to the GMD, as in [text (braille)]...

In computing, a machine-readable data file containing elements (letters, characters, ideographs) that can be read as words and sentences, as opposed to a file consisting of nontextual symbols, graphics, audio, and/or video".

The term electronic text is defined as

"the words used by an author to express thoughts and feelings presented in digital, as opposed to printed or handwritten, form. To be displayed with formatting on a computer, text must first be encoded in a markup language. Electronic text can be "born digital" or converted from another format. The first initiative aimed at making texts in the public domain available electronically was Project Gutenberg" (Reitz, 2014).

Guidelines and Specifications for Texts

While the guidelines and specifications for texts are normally woven into the digital collection's general document, some collections have a separate document focusing specifically on textual resources.

try itTry It!
Explore Yale University's specification for textual resources.
Develop your own specifications sheet.

Creating Digital Objects

When producing digital objects, it's important to decide whether to (a) scan the document and produce a text file, (b) scan the document and produce an image document, or (c) create a combination that includes an image document along with a transcription. While some OCR software is able to read text from an image document, this isn't always the case. For discovery, it's important that end users are able to search the text of documents. While software can be used to create a transcription in some cases, many projects ask volunteers to generate transcriptions.


Watch The Story of the Digital Book from University of California Library.

Read Kichuk, Diana (January 2015). Loose, falling characters and sentences: the persistence of the OCR problem in digital repository e-books. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 15(1), 59-91.

Read Best Practices for Newspaper Digitization, Best Practices for Optical Character Recognition and Best Practices for PDF Creation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Digital Library Spotlight
Want to know what it was like to be a librarian over the past century? Skim the 1934-1975 diaries of Virginia Hansen, head librarian at the Cache County (UT) Public Library. Notice that the type is text, but the format is image/jpeg. No transcriptions are provided.


Texts may be digital born items or they may be scans of pamphlets, books, diaries, and other documents. In some cases, the digital collection will contain text files of digital born items or text transcriptions of documents. Or, they may include images representing individual pages of a document shared as jpg documents. In other cases, images have been combined into PDF files.

Texts can be saved and shared many different ways:


Choose TWO of the following articles to read focusing on text materials.

Beagrie, Neil (2013). Technology Watch Report 13-4: Preservation, Trust and Continuing Access for E-Journals. Digital Preservation Coalition. Provides a global perspective.

Krabbenhoeft, N., Skinner, K., Schultz, M., & Zarndt, F. (2013). Chronicles in Preservation: Preserving Digital News and Newspapers. Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture, 42(4), 199-203.

Kirchhoff, Amy & Morrissey, Sheila (2014). Technology Watch Report 14-01: Preserving eBooks. Digital Preservation Coalition. Provides a global perspective.

Schultz, Matt, Skinner, Katherine, & Krabbenhoeft, Nick (2014). Guideline Documents for Lifecycle Management of ETDs. Educopia Institute.

reportsDigital Collection Spotlight

The NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION SPECIAL REPORTS digital collection contains dozens of special reports.

Contents: While some of these materials are aimed at educators or adult library users, others are useful for students. The reports are listed in chronological order.

Connections: From science games and interactives to tools and multimedia projects, each report connects to some aspect of science. Scan through the reports and mine those materials that connect to particular areas of the curriculum.

Featured Digital Objects:
Predicting Seasonal Weather - https://goo.gl/5swZX6
Generation Nano Contest - https://goo.gl/RWs2lp
Let It Snow - https://goo.gl/51q11b
To visit the collection, https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/.

Video Recordings

camerakidsAlso known as "moving images," video collections are emerging as an exciting and rapidly changing type of digital collection.

Key Concepts

"(A moving image) is a medium of expression consisting of a series of related images recorded on film or videotape, which when viewed in rapid succession, create the illusion of movement. The footage can be edited or unedited. Independent of subject content, the category includes both motion pictures and videorecordings" (Reitz, 2014).

According to Reitz (2014), video recording is a "generic term for an electronic medium in which visual images, usually in motion and accompanied by sound, are recorded for playback by means of a television receiver or monitor."

Guidelines and Specifications for Video Recordings

While the guidelines and specifications for video recording are normally woven into the digital collection's general document, some collections have a separate document focusing specifically on video recordings.

try itTry It!
Explore Yale University's specification for audiovisual recordings.
Develop your own specifications sheet.


Many digitization projects involve converting analog video into digital video. The original media includes film, filmstrips, Super 8 loop, and videotape. The digital versions may be MP4, GIF, MPEG, MOV or other formats.

Video files can be saved and shared many different ways:

Digital Library Spotlight
The Grateful Dead Digital Archive contains some great examples of sound and video. Visit the media collection for examples. They use Omeka for collection creation.

Read Personal Archiving: Digital Video from the Library of Congress.

Read at least ONE of the following articles to digital video collections.

Albertson, Dan & Ju, Boryung (2015). Design criteria for video digital libraries: Categories of important features emerging from users’ responses. Online Information Review, 39(2), 214-228.

Hulser, Richard (April 2015). California Light and Sound Collection. Computers in Libraries, 35(4), 4-11.

Lanagan, J., & Smeaton, A. (2012). Video digital libraries: contributive and decentralised. International Journal On Digital Libraries, 12(4), 159-178.

Oomen, J., Over, P., Kraaij, W., & Smeaton, A. (2013). Symbiosis between the TRECVid benchmark and video libraries at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. International Journal On Digital Libraries, 13(2), 91-104. 

Read at least ONE of the following articles related to moving image preservation.

Gaustad, Lars (2012). Choices for Preservation of Moving Image Material. Microform & Digitization Review, 41(3/4), 105-107.

Preservation FAQs (Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries). Think about the unique issues facing individuals preserving moving images.

Wright, Richard (2012). Technology Watch Report 12-01: Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound. Digital Preservation Coalition.

Watch the short series of videos A Race Against Time: Preserving AV Media from the Conservation Center.


Watch Hagan, Siobhan (2015). Moving Image Preservation 101. ALCTS Webinar.

Creating Digital Objects

Video collections may including both digitally born and items that have been converted to the digital environment. Many problems can be identified in preservation of moving picture collections. Explore some of these issues at the Preservation FAQs at the University of South Carolina Libraries.

Read Anderson, Sean & Northam, Adam (April 2015). Making Your Popcorn and Enjoying It Too. Computers in Libraries, 35(4), 20-23.


To learn more, browse Moving Image Preservation 101 Resources List.

american archiveDigital Collection Spotlight

shares historic programs of publicly funded radio and television in the United States.

Contents: Users can browse the collection such as agriculture, dance, energy, fine art, or literature. Another option is to explore curated exhibits on topics such as climate change and the Civil Rights Movement. Students can also explore content by participating organization.

Connections: Librarians will find quality programs across the curriculum. Partner with teachers to identify audio and video segments that match specific curriculum needs.

Featured Digital Objects:
Protesting in America http://americanarchive.org/exhibits/first-amendment
Voice of Democracy http://americanarchive.org/exhibits/presidential-elections
Civil Rights Movement http://americanarchive.org/exhibits/civil-rights
To visit the collection, go to http://americanarchive.org.

Mixed Media

Not all materials fit neatly into the categories of artifacts/realia, audio, images, text, video. Some digital libraries contains a mixture of media types.

oyezDigital Collection Spotlight

The OYEZ: US SUPREME COURT MEDIA website contains over 2,000 recordings of oral arguments before the US Supreme Court.

Contents: Sponsored by the Illinois Institute of Technology, the website provides access to information about cases, justices, and news. It also provides a tour. The Cases section for the website features US Supreme Court cases by term, year, and name. The name, description, dates (granted, argued, decided), citation link, facts of the case, question, and conclusion area provided for each case. In most cases, an audio file is provided of the oral arguments along with a transcript. The Justices section contains information about each Justice and the cases they argued. The News section is displayed as a blog. It includes a news roundup, historical information, and other short articles. Each article contains tags that are easy to search. While most articles are text, a few contain video. The U.S. Supreme Court 360 degree virtual tour is an engaging way to explore the court building and justice’ chambers.

Connections: Librarians will find this website useful for government classes as well as citizens interested in exploring social issues that have come before the court.

Featured Item: View the Obergefell v. Hodges case and notice the text and sound files.
To explore the website, go to https://www.oyez.org/.

Computer Software

What's the best way to preserve the first version of the Oregon Trail from MECC Software? This is just one of the many questions facing those developing digital collections that focus on computer software.

Oral History Projects

Some types of projects can generate many different types of digital objects. For instance, an oral history project may generate audio, video, photographs, and text transcriptions.

Oral History Examples


Many projects involve digitizing items that contain a variety of material types. For instance, a scrapbook may contain realia (e.g., concert tickets, 4-H ribbons, coins, diplomas), images (e.g., county fair poster, prom photos, vacation postcards), and texts (e.g., play programs, love letters, acceptance letters). Although each item will become a separate digital object, they may also be considered a single work and shared as a single PDF file. Decisions must be made about whether to consider items like this as single items such as an ebook or as multiple individual digital objects.

readWatch or Read!
Watch or Read Tedone, Melissa (2015). Preserving Scrapbooks. ALCTS Webinar.

Unusual Objects

From seed bank collections to game collections, libraries sometimes end up digitizing very unusual items.

Digital Collection Spotlight
The Arborglyphs on Peavine is a digital collection published by University of Nevada, Reno, University Libraries. Containing 514 arborglyphs carved by 108 sheepherders in five aspen groves in Nevada, the collection includes photographs and/or video clips along with documentation and interpretation for about half the collection. For instance, the name Jean Pierce Lanathoua is carved into an aspen tree.

Digital-Born Items

borndigitalFrom preserving email communications and Facebook postings to library website pages, there are many digital-born objects that should be considered when building a collection.

The image on the right shows a photo posted in Facebook along with a comment by a parent. If you're in charge of a County Fair digital collection, how will you ensure that this resource is included in the collection?

Electronic Communications

Electronic mail (known as e-mail) is a major means of communication around the world. This digitally-born method of communication is often overlooked when thinking about digital objects that should be included in a digital collection. Pontevolpe and Salza (2009) has identified key motivations driving e-mail archiving activities including storage concerns, strategic relevance, regulatory compliance, and historical preservation.

Two main protocols are used to read and retrieval e-mail: POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). SMTP is a protocol that define the basic format of messages and how e-mail clients interact with e-mail servers. However it only handle plain text. The MIME (Multiple Internet Mail Extension) standard supports multiple character sets, multi-part messages, and non-text attachments.

Understanding message structure is essential to archive a message. A message includes message data (the sender, the recipients), delivery information (server dates), message text, and attachments. The message itself contains a header (identity, delivery, thread, MIME, etc.) and body.

Issues arise for both short- and long-term storage of e-mail including storage, access, search, presentation, control, and security.

Read Personal Archiving: Electronic Mail from the Library of Congress.
Are you archiving your email? How safe are your personal archives?


Read Prom, Christopher J. (2011). Technology Watch Report 11-01: Preserving Email. Digital Preservation Coalition.


The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is probably the best known example.

Read Personal Archiving: Personal Websites, Blogs, and Social Media from the Library of Congress.

Read Web Archiving at the Library of Congress.

tryitTry It!
Spend some time exploring the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Explore a website and think about the value of web archiving.

Digital Records

How safe are your personal, digital records? Do you know where your records are located? Do you keep multiple backups?

Read Personal Archiving: Personal Digital Records from the Library of Congress.

airnowDigital Collection Spotlight

AIRNOW from the Environmental Protection Agency contains maps and data sets related to air quality.

: Users can search for local air quality conditions by zip code and state. Numerous maps are provided for current and historical data in the United States and Canada. The data is also available through Google Earth.

Connections: Involve youth in tracking air quality in specific local or national area. Ask students to draw inferences from this data. Use the additional air quality link for additional background information.

Featured Digital Objects:
Air Quality Index in Google Earth - https://goo.gl/9Z4krb
Maps by Location - https://goo.gl/3neC0o
To visit the collection, https://airnow.gov/


Albertson, Dan & Ju, Boryung (2015). Design criteria for video digital libraries: Categories of important features emerging from users’ responses. Online Information Review, 39(2), 214-228.

Anderson, Sean & Northam, Adam (April 2015). Making Your Popcorn and Enjoying It Too. Computers in Libraries, 35(4), 20-23.

Brylawski, Sam, Lerman, Maya, Pike, Robin, Smith, Kathlin (eds.) (2015). ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Delve, Janet & Anderson, David (eds.) (2014). Preserving complex digital objects. Facet Publishing, UK.

Eves, Bronwyn (2012). Taking Care: Family Textiles. ALCTS Webinar.

Foster, Allen & Rafferty (2016). Managing Digital Cultural Objects: Analysis, Discovery and Retrieval. ALA Editions.

Fox, Edward A., Yang, Seungwon, Ewers, John, Wildemuth, Barbara, Pomerantz, Jeffrey P., Oh, Sanghee (2011). Module 2c-8d: File Formats, Transformation, and Migration. Collaborative Research: Curriculum Development: Digital Libraries. Available: http://curric.dlib.vt.edu/modDev/modules/DL_2-c_2009-10-09.pdf

Fox, Edward A., Yang, Seungwon, Ewers, John, Wildemuth, Barbara, Pomerantz, Jeffrey P., Oh, Sanghee (2011b). Module 3-b: Digitization. Collaborative Research: Curriculum Development: Digital Libraries. Available: http://curric.dlib.vt.edu/modDev/modules/DL_3-b_2009-10-07.pdf

Gladney, Henry (2007). Preserving Digital Information. Springer Science & Business Media.

Harvey, Ross (2011). Preserving Digital Materials. Walter de Gruyter. Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=Z_8glIHqKgQC

Hensley, Holly (July/August 2015). How to begin a digital photo collection. Computers in Libraries, 35(6), 4-10.

Hulser, Richard (April 2015). California Light and Sound Collection. Computers in Libraries, 35(4), 4-11.

Jacobs, James A. & Jacobs, James R. (March/April 2013). The digital-surrogate seal of approval: a consumer-oriented standards. D-Lib Magazine, 19(3/4). Available online.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G., Ovenden, Richard, & Redwine, Gabriela (December 2010). Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Miller, Lisa (2015). ‘Capture and release’: digital cameras in the reading room. In OCLC Research, Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible, 99-112. Available online.

Nadasky, Gretchen (March/April 2014). Preserving web-based auction catalogs at the Frick Art Reference Library. D-Lib Magazine, 20(3/4). Available online.

Norris, Debra Hess (2013a). Here, There and Everywhere. ALCTS Webinar. Available online.

Norris, Debra Hess (2013b). Here, There and Everywhere. ALCTS Webinar Presentation. Available online.

Norris, Debra Hess (2013c). Here, There and Everywhere: Answers to Questions. ALCTS Webinar. Available online.

Northam, Adam & Anderson, Sean (December 2013). Popcorn and a Movie: Using Popcorn.js to enhance digital collections. Computers in Libraries, 33(10), 13-17.

Pontevolpe, Gianfranco & Salza, Silvio (June 2009). General Study 05 - Keeping and Preserving Email. The InterPARES 3 Project. Available online.

Redwine, Gabriela, Barnard, Megan, Donovan, Kate, Farr, Erika, Forstrom, Michael, Hansen, Will, John, Jeremy Leighton, Kühl, Nancy, Shaw, Seth, & Thomas, Susan (October 2013). Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Reilly, James M. (1986). Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints. Image Permanence Institute.

Reitz, Joan M. (2014). Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Libraries Unlimited. Available: http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_a.aspx.

Rimkus, Kyle, Padilla, Thomas, Popp, Tracy, & Martin, Greer (March/April 2014). Digital preservation file format policies of ARL member libraries: an analysis. D-Lib Magazine, 20(3/4). Available online.

Stanco, Filippo, Battiato, Sebastiano, and Gallo, Giovanni (2011). Digital Imaging and Computer Vision: Digital Imaging for Cultural Heritage Preservation: Analysis, Restoration, and Reconstruction of Ancient Artworks. Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

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