Friday, March 9, 2012

University of Virginia Digitization Services Unit

On January 28, 2012, Liz Mengel, Brian Kehoe, and David Reynolds visited the Digitization Services Unit (DSU) of the University of Virginia Libraries to learn about their workflow, staffing, and equipment. UVa was identified as an "exemplary digital library program" in the course of our research while writing the Digitization Strategic Plan for the Sheridan Libraries. Bradley Daigle and his staff at UVa spent all morning showing us their layout and sharing lessons learned. This meeting provided invaluable direction to our own plan. Following are some of the highlights of their program.

  • Most digitization work flows from faculty or student requests to use digital images in their teaching and research.
  • Requests are initiated via an online form. Special Collections receives the request and begins tracking it in an online tracking system.
  • A routing slip containing lots of information about the request is generated. This slip, which contains a QR code, tracks effort through the various phases of digitization. It also enables a very orderly workflow for their many student employees
  • Special Collections assesses physical condition and routes to Preservation if work is needed.
  • DSU then takes the item, digitizes it, and performs post-scan operations such as crop and rotate.
  • DSU averages 3-5 requests per day; could do more with multiple shifts
  • Digital images are delivered to patron via FTP server automatically. Public domain images are imported into the libraries digital repository.
  • Tracking system is open source and available on GetHub


  • They rely mostly on “patron-driven collection building”. Patron requests guide which items are scanned, but these are then brought into broad collections like “text collections” or “archival collections”
  • Scan the whole book or folder whenever possible. This helps build collections.

Intellectual Property

  • There are three levels of access granted to digitized items: world, consortium only, UVa only
  • Developing a “due diligence” checklist for public service people. They should be the ones who decide whether or not something can be made available, not the Digitization Unit.
  • JPEGS for items that are under copyright are watermarked along the border with a copyright warning statement
  • IP problem areas include donor specifications and unpublished materials such as letters
  • Bradley is working on a lightweight checklist that will help public service folks determine when a an item can be made available for “world access”

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