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Collaborative Digitization Programs

Collaborative Digitization Programs by Michael Seadle
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Statewide and regional digitization programs in the USA offer cultural heritage institutions (archives, libraries, and museums) a viable option for digitizing their collections (e.g. photographs, diaries, oral histories, museum objects). These collaborative programs may provide training in digital imaging and metadata standards, access to scanning equipment, and software tools that streamline the creation of metadata records. Most programs also feature a central site for searching across the digital collections of participating institutions. Students, scholars and lifelong learners gain access to a rich source for exploring the history and culture of their state or region.

The Ohio Memory Online Scrapbook ( illustrates these benefits well. A simple search for “temperance” retrieves digital surrogates of a variety of sources (photographs, temperance society records, letters, pamphlets) from over 30 institutions, including county historical societies and small public libraries. The cost savings and potential educational value of these programs have not gone unnoticed. Counting programs still in planning, groups from at least 40 states are involved in statewide or regional digitization programs (Collaborative digitization projects in the USA , kmiddlet/stateportals.html).

Eight articles in this issue illustrate diverse approaches to addressing the technical, social, and financial challenges facing collaborative digitization programs. States and regions represented include Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, the Mountain West (Utah, Nevada), Alabama, and the Columbia River Basin (Idaho, Oregon, Washington State). Although these programs vary in terms of organizational structure, the number and types of participating institutions, and software/hardware options, they share a vision of creating a dynamic and sustainable digitization program. The realization of this vision requires that programs implement sound business planning practices, build strong collaborative networks, empower content providers (i.e. participating institutions), and engage end-users.

Previously published in: The Electronic Library, Volume: 23, Number 2, 2005

Emerald Publishing Limited; Read online
Title: Collaborative Digitization Programs
Author: Michael Seadle

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