The Library of Congress / Ameritech National Digital Library Competition
Steps in the Digitization Process [January 1996]
Last updated by Carl Fleischhauer, January 1996
This document outlines the production process for historical
collections at the Library of Congress and reflects that institution's
administrative structure and procedures. Not every collection requires
all of the steps listed; some collections require additional steps not
listed. In practice, many of the operations are carried out in parallel
and not sequentially.
I. Collection Preparation
Develop the production workplan
Determine the division of labor, i.e, the respective roles of various Library units
Preparation II (Traditional LC Special Collections Processing)
- Preparation I (Planning)
- Select the collection or other body of content
- Plan the approach.
Will the whole collection, a selected segment, or a cross section
be digitized? Will access be provided via bibliographic records, a
finding aid, or some other means? If the collection is treated in
selective fashion, will the access tool also be selective or will it
describe the entire collection or content body?
Preparation III (Special Processing for Digitization; Will Co-occur with Preparation II)
- Organize: give the collection its structure and/or arrangement
- Preserve: perform conservation treament; reformat if needed
- Describe: prepare catalog and/or finding aid
- Apply digital naming conventions
- Determine copyright or other restrictions
- Record restriction 'facts' for future use
- Develop "handling" strategy
- Contact rights-owners
- Seek Copyright Office advice and LC General Counsel concurrence
- Restrict access where necessary
- Request repository space from Information Technology Services (ITS:
LC's computer center)
II. Contracting for Digital Conversion
- Most collections are digitized by contractors who specialize in
various types of originals: unbound paper, bound paper, searchable texts,
moving images, still-pictorial images, microfilmed documents, sound
- Some collections are scanned by LC staff.
- Procurement options when contractors are used:
- Use previously established unit-price contracts (no lead time).
- work with NDLP staff to coordinate flow of work
- Make a new procurement for a special, specific type of collection
(procurement-process lead time varies according to scale).
- draft statement of work
- evaluate offerors' proposals
- serve as Contracting Officer's Technical Representative
III. Digital Capture
- Most initial capture carried out onsite at LC.
- Contractor (or LC staff) carries out direct digital capture with
scanner or digital camera, or creates an analog intermediate, e.g., by
filming. Alternate approaches are used for recorded sound and moving
- Most post-processing carried out offsite.
- Capture plus post-processing produces multiple entities, e.g.,
film intermediate plus large and small size digital files; or page images
and searchable texts
- Technical considerations at capture and post-processing time
- file naming and other processing (see Preparation III above)
- text conversion, formats, headers, compression, and delivery media
IV. Quality Review
- Verify delivery of 100 percent of files
- Inspect 10 percent of file contents
- Ensure technical requirements have been met
- Provide feedback to contractor
- Review any re-work
- Store all digital files in LC repository
VI. Assemble Material for World Wide Web (LC's "source edition")
- Prepare HTML files to provide framework for collection
- Create indexes (today: carried out by ITS using INQUERY software)
- Quality review: test retrieval and verify links among digital elements
- Connect new collection to the larger resource (today: via American
Memory menus; tomorrow: via facile searching across the whole
VII. Assist National Digital Library publishing partners when they create added-value products.