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Digitization in RBML: Principles and Procedures

Origin of Projects

  1. Cooperative national and international initiatives (e.g., ESTC, ECCO, DPLA, etc.).
  2. RBML (curator-initiated projects, exhibition catalogs, finding aids, and web sites).
  3. University of Illinois Library projects; teaching faculty initiatives.
  4. Patron-generated (on-site, campus, and external); and ILL.


  1. Digitization expands access to content via creation of (ideally) non-destructive surrogates and can be a useful preservation tool.
  2. The collection strengths in RBML represent good opportunity for significant contributions to digital surrogacy and scholarship.
  3. Materials must be in stable condition and without integral deficiencies in order to proceed with digitization.
  4. Cost-benefit analyses should include considerations for potential damage to items, impact on RBML operations, and currency with core RBML mission principles.
  5. RBML will not digitize materials easily available elsewhere in physical or digital form.
  6. RBML retains the right to assert ownership claim to the digital surrogates.
  7. RBML will determine or approve the forms of surrogacy access. Credit and contact information will be included on all sites and appropriate pages.
  8. No digitization projects will proceed without RBML curatorial oversight.
  9. According to format, digitization must be done to at least a minimally archival standard.
  10. RBML will retain real-time access to archival quality native image files.
  11. Full cataloging/processing must be complete before items enter the digitization queue. Funding for metadata creation should be part of projects that would include uncataloged, under-cataloged, or unprocessed items.
  12. Surrogate metadata should provide the core bibliographic metadata of the original item(s) and should reference original location and identifying class or inventory mark and contain links to the RBML reference email.
  13. Procedures and funding for conservation assessment and preservation or stabilization of materials should also be part of all projects.
  14. Proper and complete registration of all materials temporarily exiting RBML for digitization is required.
  15. All digital facsimiles must be accessible through our OPAC (Voyager) and via the surrogate records for the digital objects.
  16. Master images are intended to be retained in an appropriate long-term preservation environment that includes capacity for digital object management and addresses concerns about data integrity, data migration, and long-term viability.
  17. RBML must seek a measure of cost-recovery for patron-generated digitization and publication requests.


  1. Curatorial staff of RBML shall determine what collections are appropriate for large scale digitization projects. Curators will review all potential collections-whether idea for digitization proposals originating from RBML staff, other librarians, teaching faculty, or national or regional partners.
  2. For substantial or complete imaging of printed materials, digital collection sites are searched for prior digital copies.
  3. Citations are verified, physical condition is assessed, and cataloging is reviewed—for every item selected.
  4. For patron-generated requests, item conditions are assessed, production and permission estimates are supplied, and formal orders with payment information are solicited and delivery methods are confirmed.
  5. For digitization in DCC, materials are retrieved from RBML and charged to DCC for the period of digitization, and returned before 4:30 p.m. on the same day to RBML. All shipments are to be arranged for and transported by the RBML Registrar or designated RBML staff.
  6. Realistic estimates of staff time for pulling and processing materials to be digitized must be determined before start of any project. If necessary, funding must be found to permit safe, secure, and efficient processing.
  7. Procedures will be put in place for conservation and repair of materials injured in the digitization process.