From Investigation to Implementation

Building a Program
for the Large-Scale
Digitization of Manuscripts


For digitization of the SHC collections to become truly sustainable, it must be a part of the core mission of the SHC that is institutionally supported. Participation in the digitization process must be built into the job descriptions and work plans of nearly all SHC employees, and consideration for digitization must be a part of the workflow associated with every new collection. In this model, the stream of digitization may need to slow to a trickle at times and it may speed up dramatically at others, depending on available resources, but it will not cease.

The immediate long-range goal of large-scale digitization is to digitize the more than 1,030 collections (totaling more than 5 million items) that have been identified as priorities using the decision matrix. These digitized collections will be presented online in conjunction with the collection's finding aid through an interface that provides free and open access to the digitized collections. In the short term, the SHC has determined that existing resources will allow, over the next three to five years, for the digitization of 500 collections (each of which is comprised of one linear foot or less of material and together total approximately 200 linear feet), which will be presented in conjunction with their finding aids through a Web interface that provides free and open access. The SHC plans to seek funding to enable a more rapid schedule of digitization of these initial 500 collections and to establish a defined timeline for digitizing the prioritized 1,030 collections.

In keeping with the goal of creating a sustainable, long-term program of digitization that integrates digitization with the core mission of the SHC, this digitization initiative will not be undertaken by a set of specialized archivists working on this project apart from the rest of the SHC staff. Rather, roles in the digitization process will be divided between staff members who will work primarily with digitization and those who work with the existing physical archive. For example, the SHC proposes hiring a digital SHC coordinator, a collection preparation assistant, and a scanning technician to work primarily on the digitization process. However, ten other University Library staff (the director of the SHC, the Senior Research and Instruction Librarian for the SHC, the head of Technical Services, the Manuscripts Processing librarian, the conservator, the assistant conservator, the conservation assistant, the manager of CDLA Digital Production Center, the CDLA project management librarian, and the CDLA digitization technician) will have important roles in the proposed digitization program.