Library:DigInit Documentation

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UBC Library - Digital Collection Development Policy

Last revised October 6, 2010

Digitization Strategy Vision

The University of British Columbia Library is a collaborator and leader in the creation, access and preservation of digital materials. The Library’s Digitization Centre embraces new technology, methods of access, workflows and preservation strategies while building sustainable digital collections to support and enrich the educational, cultural and economic endeavors of the University, the People of British Columbia and communities beyond.


In considering materials for UBC Library digital collections some broad areas should be considered priorities: British Columbiana, materials which directly support the curriculum, Faculty and Student research output, the material record of the University, and those materials which are considered to be rare or unique.

Collection Review Criteria and Questions


1. Does the material have intrinsic value to current students, researchers or the broader community?

2. Is the material something already collected by the Library – does it deepen, broaden or enhance a current collection? Does it build on a current digital collection?

3. Does the material reside in a collection area that is weak or non-existent and does it offer potential research value for possible future programs at the University?

4. Does the material offer possibilities for funding, creating partnerships and collaborations which in themselves strengthen the Library in some way?

5. Is the material likely to be transitory in its current format? E.g. print, audio tape, video tape, cd-rom, dvd, data sets, film, etc. Would digitizing it create value for future research?


1. Does the material support the teaching and research functions of the institution?

2. Does the material support teaching and research within the province?

3. Does the material support broader teaching and research initiatives?

4. What is the likely demand for the material?


1. By reformatting (print, audio tape, video etc.) or placing material in repositories is access broadened? E.g. better metadata for subject access etc.

2. Is material that is fragile in the current format (print, audio, cd, dvd, film) likely to be used more in a digital format?

3. Does the material create a virtual collection of geographically scattered materials?

4. Does the target material duplicate resources already available digitally elsewhere? Could the Library simply point to their use?


1. Does the material help the Library to strengthen its mandate to explore, research and create using new technologies and formats? (see Digitization Strategy Vision)

2. Does the material provide opportunities for new collaborations?

3. Does the material provide an opportunity to develop and enhance mechanisms for access: metadata, new formats, new tools in scholarly communication etc.?

Available Resources and Technical Feasibility

1. Are there sufficient financial and human resources to complete the entire project?

2. If the project must be done in phases is it likely that there will be resources to complete them?

3. Comparing the resources consumed by the target project to other available projects are there compelling reasons to choose this project over another - preservation, access, value to present or future researchers etc.

4. Is the project ongoing for the foreseeable future? What are the ongoing resource cost estimates for a 3-5 year window?

5. Are the technical challenges so large that the project is likely to become unwieldy or unsustainable? Is the project, as it is currently conceived, simply impossible to do because of the technical challenges?

6. Is it possible to automate much of the technical side of the project to avoid overly labour intensive workflows?

7. What resources are likely to be needed for the ongoing curation of the material?

8. Are there technical issues around curation which need to be considered?

Rights Issues

1. Does the Library hold copyright for the material to be digitized?

2. Does the Library have written documentation from the rights owner allowing it to hold a digital copy of the material?

3. Does the Library require any other permission prior to embarking on the project?


After reviewing the various questions the decision makers will weight criteria under “Value and Usefulness” as essential but the deciding factors are really under “Access and Potential” as most projects would likely stand up to the scrutiny of “Value and Usefulness”. In prioritizing projects there should be elements from all criteria present. The issue of available resources and technical feasibility must always be considered and factored into the final decision and lack of resources or technical complexity may be the final deciding factors regardless of the merit of the project.


Current Imaging standards

Imaging with the ATIZ workstations and Canon digital cameras

  • Capture RAW images in the CR2 format.
  • Derive master TIFFs from RAW files using the appropriate software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) using 300 ppi, 24 bit colour, and the highest pixel dimensions available.
  • Save the master TIFFs with no compression.
  • If future access to the material may be restricted, or if the colour profile of the image is of special importance, save the RAW images as well.
  • Be sure to keep the RAW viewing/manipulation software up to date.

Imaging with the TTI workstation

  • Capture RAW images in the DNG format.
  • Derive master TIFFs from RAW files using the appropriate software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) using 600 ppi, 24 bit colour, and the highest pixel dimensions available.
  • Save the master TIFFs with no compression.
  • If future access to the material may be restricted, or if the color profile of the image is of special importance, save the RAW images as well.
  • Be sure to keep the RAW viewing/manipulation software up to date.

Imaging with the Epson scanners and Fujitsu scanners

  • Scan as a TIFF and save with no compression. For most cases, scan at 600 ppi and 24 bit colour.
  • For scans of small photographs, upscale the image to 6000 pixels on the long edge.

Master files

  • Save master files as TIFF with no compression.
  • Save at 600 or 300 ppi, depending on the project and method of image capture. For the majority of cases we use 600 ppi.
  • Save images as 1 bit bitonal, 8 bit grayscale, or 24 bit colour depending on the project. For the majority of cases we use 24 bit colour.

Access files

  • Set CONTENTdm to generate JPEG2000 files at 10:1 compression for display.
  • Set CONTENTdm to generate high quality JPEG files for download.
  • Set CONTENTdm to generate high quality PDF files for multipage items.
  • Older collections may not reflect these standards.

Audio standards

Master files

  • WAVE or BWF, spoken language @ 44.1 kHz, music and ambient sounds @ 96 kHz, 24 bit

Access files

  • MP3, 44.1 KHz, 16 bit

Video standards

Master files

  • File wrapper: AVI or MOV
  • Encoding: Uncompressed 4:2:2 10 bit UYVY

Access files

  • File wrapper: MOV or MP4
  • Encoding: H.264, 640 x 360

Metadata standards

The majority of our digitization projects use Dublin Core-based metadata guidelines for CONTENTdm collections. The metadata standards document is continually updated. The most current Metadata Manual document, from May 2020, is available.


The Digitization Centre has a fully functioning lab with specialized scanning equipment to accommodate a wide range of materials. As well as a magnetic wall that allows for the image capture of large format items that cannot be put through the scanning equipment, we currently have the following:

Tarsia Technical Industries (TTI) 40x60 Copy System (1)

  • This workstation uses a Sinar 86H camera back and digital CMV lenses. It is used for newspapers, oversize items, delicate materials, and miscellaneous documents.

ATIZ Bookdrive Pro Cradle Scanners (4)

  • The scanners use Canon EOS 5D MKIII bodies and 50mm, 100mm and 24-70mm lenses for image capture. The cradle scanners are used for bound books and magazines, as well as for anything up to standard newspaper size.

Fujitsu fi-6670A Double-sided Document Scanner (3)

  • Used for unbound or disbound documents and large-volume scanning.

Contex HD5450 Wide Format CCD Scanner (1)

  • Used for maps, newspapers, posters, and other oversize items.

Epson Perfection V750-M Pro flatbed scanner with standard platen (4)

  • Used for scanning photographs and delicate unbound material.

Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed scanner with large platen (2)

  • Used for scanning photographs and delicate unbound material.

nextScan FlexScan 3-in-1 microform scanner (1)

  • Used for scanning from microform format.

Canon EOS 5D MKII DSLR Body with 24-70 Lens (1)

  • Used for photography and 3 dimensional objects.

Project Planning Toolkit

Digitization projects involve more than just digitization. Many groups or individuals may be involved and many factors may have to be considered, such as copyright, metadata, I.T. infrastructure, scheduling, web design and funding ... just to name a few. This toolkit will help you to plan your project and see what digitization resources the Library has to offer.

More icon.gif Getting started

We ask that parties interested in proposing a digital project complete our Digital Projects Form. This will help us to review the various projects being proposed across the Library and move them into our workflow along with other priority projects.

We do recommend that you contact the Digitization Centre prior to submitting your proposal. Unit staff can help you to plan out your project, identify copyright issues, and determine required staffing and resources.

More icon.gif Who we are and what we do

Every digitization project is unique, with many factors that can influence the workflow requirements and the staffing composition of the project team. While many of these positions play a role in each digital project we undertake, these roles change to meet the needs of the project.

Project Sponsor

The resident content expert, the Project Sponsor proposes the project for digitization and acts as a consultant throughout the duration of the project.

Digital Projects Librarian

The Digital Projects Librarian acts as the project manager, shepherding the project through the digitization phases. The librarian is also responsible for such aspects of the project as archival preservation and copyright issues, marketing and promotion, and web readiness.

Technical Services Librarian

The Technical Services Librarian provides guidance on metadata structure, defining the metadata template, ensuring that fields are formatted correctly, and consulting and troubleshooting as required.


UBC students perform a wide variety of tasks to support the digitization project, including scanning using a variety of scanning equipment, digital image editing, applying metadata, and uploading digital content.

Digitization Centre Assistant

The imaging expert, the Digitization Centre Assistant trains students and provides troubleshooting support for a variety of equipment and projects.

Library Systems & Information Technology

The LSIT group provides interface, hardware, and design support to the digitization projects.

More icon.gif Overview of workflow

Our digital projects workflow gives a general overview of the stages of a typical digitization project. Every digital project is unique, and the workflow for each project will reflect this. However, this workflow shows the stages common to each UBC Digitization Centre project.

More icon.gif Copyright

Determining copyright restrictions and digital rights permissions is an essential step in any digitization project, and should be established prior to the project being undertaken. Every item is unique and may present its own set of copyright issues. As a general starting point, projects at the UBC Library should consider the following questions when determining whether materials are eligible for digitization:

Is the material in the public domain? In Canada, works generally enter into the public domain 50 years after the death of the creator. Once it is in the public domain, it normally may be digitized without fear of copyright infringement.

Does UBC hold the copyright to the material? If possible, refer to the item’s donor agreement for any indication of rights transferal. Even if an item is physically held at - or owned by - UBC, that doesn’t necessarily mean that UBC also holds the copyright.

Will the copyright holder give permission to digitize the material? This can be a fairly time-consuming process as every effort must be undertaken to locate the rights holder. The Digital Initiatives Unit can assist in performing the search; make sure to allow time for this when planning your digitization project.

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, the material is a likely candidate for digitization.

Note that if copyright is held by another party, permission must be obtained before the material can be put online. In all cases, a record of copyright status and actions taken to determine that status should be maintained in order to document good faith efforts. This record may include a description of the search process undertaken, the rights status discovered, and/or the permission received, as appropriate to the materials.

If you have any questions about copyright or are unclear as to the copyright status of an item to be digitized, please contact the Digitization Centre. For further information on copyright at UBC, see Copying and Scanning at UBC.


UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2018-2019 The report highlights the Digitization Centre's collections, projects, and community engagement & partnerships for the 2019-2019 fiscal year.

UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2017-2018 The report highlights key projects, partnerships, and content development trends for the 2017-2018 fiscal year

UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2016-2017 The impact and activity report highlights key projects, partnerships and user engagement trends for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2015-2016 The impact and activity report highlights the unveiling of UBC Library's new digital portal, Open Collections, and outlines key projects, partnerships and user engagement trends for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2014-2015 The impact and activity report describes new projects, the work of members of our unit, as well as the relationships built with UBC researchers, students and community partners for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

UBC Library Digitization Centre Impact and Activity Report 2011-2014 The impact and activity report describes the work of members of our unit as well as the relationships built with UBC researchers, students and community partners since the Centre’s opening in March 2011.