DLG Digitization Guide

Under revision

Version 3.0 Sept. 2004

This guide is designed to give an overview of the digitization process for historical documents such as manuscripts, photographs, books, printed materials, and other flat paper items. It is intended to cover the basics of digitization projects in a concise manner. Links to more in-depth information are found throughout the guide, and a list of resources appears at the end.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Questions to Ask

Step 2: Selection

Step 3: Equipment for Digitization

Step 4: Scanning

Step 5: Text Encoding

Step 6: Metadata

Step 7: Quality Control

Step 8: Delivery Methods

Suggested Resources


What is Digitization?

Scanning is easy. Building a website is relatively easy. However, once you start to consider a digitization project of hundreds or thousands of items, you quickly discover that you are playing an entirely different ballgame.

"Digitization" refers to all of the steps involved in the process of making collections of historical materials available online. This includes all of the following steps and more depending on what you're digitizing:

  • Ask a lot of questions first
  • Get financial resources, staff, equipment, build technical knowledge
  • Project management
  • Selection of collections/materials
  • Scan or digitize materials
  • Transcribe, markup, index
  • Create metadata
  • Quality control
  • Process images
  • Mount it all on the web
  • More quality control
  • Preserve and maintain archival media and online collections

As you can see, there are many things to be considered, and that the digitization process is not as simple as merely "scanning." This guide is designed to help with the process and point to other resources on digitizing historical materials.