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Digital Conversion – Documents and Guidelines
A Bibliographic Reference

August 28, 2009

The following list was compiled as a service to those wanting information regarding current digital imaging guidelines and best practices developed and employed by various agencies and institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Inclusion on this list does not represent any form of recommendation or endorsement by the Federal Government Agencies participating in the Federal Digitization Guidelines Working Group. The list is limited to guidelines developed after the year 2000, since it is intended to describe current rather than historical practices.

While the list was current and accurate at the time of compilation, users should consult the official site of the source institution to confirm that they are viewing the latest version of the cited documentation.

Suggestions for additions or modifications can be submitted here.

Government Institutions – U.S. (Federal)

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Technical Standards for Digital Conversion of Text and Graphic Materials. December, 2006

“The Library is currently revising a series of standards and best practices to guide the Library's digital conversion efforts. These documents detail the current digitization standards followed by the Library.”

National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP)

Technical Guidelines, 2015


Sustainability of Digital Formats - Planning for Library of Congress Collections. May 2007.

National Archive and Records Administration (NARA)

Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Creation of Production Master Files – Raster Images. June 2004.

Based on the procedures used by the Digital Imaging Lab of NARA's Special Media Preservation Laboratory, this document defines approaches for creating digital surrogates for access and reproduction purposes. The topics covered include digital image capture, minimum metadata, file formats (naming and storage), and quality control. The intended audience includes those involved in the planning and managing of digitization projects, as well as those actually doing the scanning and image capture.

National Library of Medicine (NLM)

The Back Issue Digitization Project. February 29, 2008

“The purpose of this publication is to document all requirements for image capture, article identification, and citation creation for the materials scanned as part of the PubMed Central Back Issue Scanning Project. It is subject to change, and may specify requirements that are only pertinent to records created for NLM’s PubMed Central database.”

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Digital Imaging Standardsexternal link. March 2009.

“These standards reflect SIA requirements for digitization of images. These standards reflect available best practices applied in the context of SI Archives resource constraints at a specific point in time.”

Government Institutions – U.S. (State and Local)

New York State Archives

Imaging Production Guidelines. 2014

“These guidelines list the minimal standards for producing and inspecting digital images of records. Where applicable, these guidelines follow national digital imaging standards and industry practices.”

Government Institutions - Foreign

National Library of Australia (NLA)

The following are all contained in the “Digitisation” section of the National Library of Australia web site:

Digital Capture and Image Creationexternal link. March 31, 2008

This is an overview of guidelines covering digital capture standards, digital capture equipment, digital capture software, and guidelines for the selection of the digital capture device.

Images for Web Deliveryexternal link. June 29, 2007

This section contains an overview of the derivatives produced from the TIFF masters (unless otherwise specified) for convenient web delivery.

Metadata for Images Created by the National Library of Australiaexternal link. March 25, 2004

“This information relates only to the metadata which applies to images. Metadata elements are not included for other formats, such as sound recordings and moving images, nor elements that are used to describe finding aids and descriptions of particular projects.”

Queensland Government:

State Library of Queensland
Picture Queensland Image Digitisation Manualexternal link. 2007

“The manual provides information on the key aspects of planning and conducting a digitisation project. The procedures listed in the manual are based upon State Library’s digitisation standards and guidelines, which conform to established industry best practice.”

UK Arts and Humanities Data Service

Preservation Handbook Bitmap (Raster) Imagesexternal link. July 11, 2005

“This handbook provides an overview of issues concerning the creation and long-term preservation of digital still images. It will provide an overview of the nature of digital still images; guidelines on best practice in the creation of digital still images; information on avoiding common pit falls; and an understanding of how the AHDS will preserve the resulting digital objects.”

Guides to Good Practice: Creating and Documenting Electronic Textsexternal link. March 31, 2008

“The aim of this Guide is to take users through the basic steps involved in creating and documenting an electronic text or similar digital resource.”

Academic – U.S.

California Digital Library (CDL)

CDL Guidelines for Digital Objects. August 2011.
PDFexternal link / HMTLexternal link

“The CDL Guidelines for Digital Objects provides specifications for all new digital objects prepared by institutions for submission to CDL for access and preservation services. They are not intended to cover all of the administrative, operational, and technical issues surrounding the creation of digital object collections.”

Cornell University

Establishing a Central Depository for Preserving Digital Image Collectionsexternal link. March 2001.

“This document presents recommendations from the Digital Preservation Policy Working Group, which was charged with developing a prospective strategy for managing Cornell’s digital image assets over time.”

Moving Theory into Practice, Digital Imaging Tutorialexternal link. February 20, 2003

“This tutorial offers base-level information on the use of digital imaging to convert and make accessible cultural heritage materials. It also introduces some concepts advocated by Cornell University Library, in particular the value of benchmarking requirements before undertaking a digital initiative. You will find here up-to-date technical information, formulas, and reality checks, designed to test your level of understanding.”

Penn State University (PSU)

Penn State University Libraries Digitization Best Practicesexternal link. November 11, 2008

Using the recommendations from the Digital Library Federation as a comparison, this page outlines PSU’s specifications for document imaging.

University of Florida

PALMM Guidelines and Procedures– Digitization.external link (2009)

Included within the general PALMM archives procedures, the digitization section contains links to recommended procedures for master and derivative images. PALMM (Publication of Archival, Library & Museum Materials) is a program of the libraries of the Florida Board of Education's Division of Colleges and Universities (DCU) designed to provide support to individual and cooperative digital library initiatives.

University of Georgia/ Digital Library of Georgia

Digitization Guideexternal link. July 2001.

“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.”

University of Illinois

Guidelines for Digital Imaging Projects. December 6, 2001external link

“In addition to broad information about the digitization process, this document also includes specific guidelines addressing the following areas: Getting Started with Digital Imaging Projects, Minimum Quality Requirements for Digital Images, Metadata Standards, Long-term Maintenance of Digital Files.”

University of Michigan

Digital Conversion Unitexternal link

This guide describes the primary digitization methods including standard treatment, client responsibilities, and deliverables, for text scanning, OCR, imaging, text encoding, digitization specifications, and digitization rates.

From the Making of America (MOA) projectexternal link. January 2002.

A short overview of the MOA conversion process.

Academic – Foreign

Oxford University

Scanning Prices for Digital Projects of the Oxford Digital Libraryexternal link. March 2003.

A table that includes the scanning specifications used by Oxford University Libraries Imaging Service.

Scoping the Future of the University of Oxford’s Digital Library Collections – Appendix Eexternal link. September 1999.

“The report aims to meet the main objective of identifying the areas for further investment and funding for Oxford to fulfill its potential in the area of digitization. It defines where Oxford currently stands in terms of digital library activity, where it should be aiming for in the long term, and how it plans to get there.”

Organizations – Non-Profit

Digital Library Federation (DLF)

Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serialsexternal link.
December 2002.

“This benchmark has been prepared and endorsed by the DLF to document the minimum characteristics of digital reproductions — regardless of whether or not they are registered in the DLF or other registries — required to ensure usability, persistence and interoperability.”

Guides to Quality in Visual Resource Imagingexternal link. July 2000.

“The guides are written for those who have already decided what they will digitize and what purposes the digital images will serve. After the often-complex matters of selection have been settled, these guides address the steps to successfully create and store high-quality digital masters and derivatives. They include project planning, scanner selection, imaging system set-up, and the resulting digital masters.”

OCLC/ Research Library Group (RLG)

Preparing Digital Surrogates for RLG Cultural Materialsexternal link. 2008

This is a list of recommendations with some basic specifications for digitizing images, text, pictorial materials, audio, video, and complex digital objects.

RLG Guidelines for Creating a Request for Proposal for Digital Imaging Servicesexternal link. May 1998.

“Cornell University Library, Department of Preservation and Conservation prepared these guidelines on behalf of RLG to assist the member institutions in developing their own Requests for Proposal (RFP) for digital imaging services. These guidelines do not represent a model RFP, but rather a framework for creating an RFP, such as the sample one prepared by Cornell for an upcoming text digitization project.”

Automatic Exposure: Capturing Technical Metadata for Digital Still Imagesexternal link. 2004

This report covers the technical metadata issues faced by scanning manufacturers, issues raised by NISO Z39.87: “Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images,” and a look at the tools for harvesting technical metadata.

National Information Standards Organization (NISO)

A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections, Third Editionexternal link. December 2007.

This document provides an overview of major components, identifies resources and practices, and encourages participation in the ongoing development of best practices for digital collection building. It is intended for both cultural heritage organizations and funding organizations

Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines (UPDIG) Working Group

The Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelinesexternal link. Version 4.0 - September 22, 2008

“The UPDIG guidelines aim to clarify issues affecting accurate reproduction and management of digital images. These guidelines were created to establish photographic standards and practices for photographers, designers, printers, and image distributors. The guidelines cover Digital Asset Management, Color Profiling, Metadata, and Photography Workflow.”

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Working Groups

Still Image Working Group
This group is involved in a cooperative effort to develop common digitization guidelines for still image materials.

Audio-Visual Working Group
The goal for this working group is to identify, establish, and disseminate information about standards and practices for the digital reformatting of audio-visual materials by federal agencies.

Last Updated: 08/07/2015