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FAQ - Digitization of Library Historical Materials


A separate page was created for this category in order to explain necessary requirements to uphold a higher standard for inclusion of objects to databases that are created digitally. 

This category will widen the scope of online access to historical materials found in Wisconsin libraries while maintaining high standards for project quality, accessibility, interoperability, and sustainability. This category will allow public libraries to digitize materials that are unique or of local interest. Libraries may manage their own digital repositories, or develop partnerships with organizations that can provide hosting and technical expertise. Materials must be related to the history, culture, environment, government, or economy of the state of Wisconsin.

Possible uses for funds in this category include:

  • Basic scanner
  • Scanning software
  • Image editing software
  • Collection management software
  • OCR (optical character recognition) software
  • Outsourcing  a project to a vendor for scanning
  • Time to scan and provide metadata development
  • Licensing fee to harvest collection for Recollection Wisconsin (formerly Wisconsin Heritage Online)
  • Storage costs for access and preservation of digital files (i.e. local area network, cloud, external hard drives, archival-quality DVDs)

General requirements

  • A project must contain unique local resources not available elsewhere online for free.
  • A project must be completed within the grant award period (April 1-March 31).
  • Applicants are encouraged to attend an information session to develop reliable project cost estimates, select materials, research copyright, develop metadata, and publicize project.
  • Applicants must provide cost estimates and specify type, size, and approximate amount of material to be digitized.
  • Completed projects must have the ability to be harvested by Recollection Wisconsin in order to provide wider accessibility to online materials. Budgets must include a collection harvesting fee.  
  • Completed projects must appropriately acknowledge IMLS as the funding source on websites, publications and activities supported with the use of LSTA grant money. This acknowledgment is located in this publication’s “Need to Know” chapter.
  • The grant administrator must participate in an online group forum with other digitization grant administrators, led by DLT Technology Consultant
  • Submit media files (such as digital images, videos, URLs) as part of 6 month and final evaluation to show grant progress
  • Showcase completed grant to Wisconsin public library community through presentation at statewide conference, webinar, or published online resource

Requirements to provide public access

  • A project must be created using an OAI-compliant platform (Open Archives Initiative), such as CONTENTdm, ResCarta, or Omeka (with plug-in), so that metadata can be harvested by aggregators such as Recollection Wisconsin or, in the future, the DPLA.
  • Content may be hosted locally or access may be provided in partnership with another institution (i.e. CONTENTdm at Milwaukee Public Library through Recollection Wisconsin). Digital collections must be made freely available online. Authentication or location restrictions (such as viewing in library only due to copyright restrictions) are not permitted.
  • Digital collections and/or items should have records in the institution’s online public access catalog (OPAC).
  • Digital collections and/or items are strongly encouraged to link to/from the library’s web page.


Applicants must address long-term storage of digital assets and create regular back-up procedures of materials made available with grant support to ensure sustained access.

Selection and copyright requirements:

  • Collections must have broad appeal
  • May have research value and/or are of particular interest to key audiences
  • Are organized around a specific subject, theme or creator
  • Applicants must address copyright status of selected collections to ensure they may be included and displayed

Scanning and image processing requirements

Applications should state that scanning and image processing, whether by the applicant or a vendor, will follow a set of established guidelines, such as:

  • Recollection Collection: Contributor Guidelines
  • General Guidelines for Digitization, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center
  • Locally developed written standards consistent with widely recognized digital imaging standards such as those developed by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative

Metadata requirements

Applicants must be capable of creating metadata that will follow a set of established guidelines based on a standard metadata schema such as Dublin Core.

Minimum required metadata fields for each item in all collections are (Recollection Wisconsin required fields):

  • Title
  • Subject
  • DCMI Type (text, still image, etc.)
  • Format (Internet media type, such as image/jpeg, image/tiff, etc.)
  • File name
  • Rights statement (copyright)
  • Name of submitting institution
  • Date digitized

Marketing the Collection

  • Applications should include a plan for marketing digital collections to the community.

Proposed training requirements

  • Applications are strongly encouraged to include staff training to cover materials selection, copyright, scanning, file management, and metadata. 
  • Applications should include a plan for addressing staff training

For questions about this information, contact Ben Miller (608) 224-6168