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Digital Library Collection Development Policy


Digital library collections at Wesleyan University are built in alignment with university and library-wide priorities. From selecting materials for our digital collections through publishing and promoting them, the library seeks to enhance Wesleyan’s distinctiveness and support the ongoing educational and scholarly mission of the university. The Wesleyan University mission statement and strategic goals, as well as the library’s, inform this policy and any decisions regarding digitization, description, access, and preservation services.

To the extent that it is possible and in keeping with the policies and statements already mentioned, digital library content and its description are made publicly accessible and useable without restriction.


This policy governs decisions made regarding digitization of paper-based or 3-dimensional collection materials owned by the library. The policy also addresses digital objects that were digitized prior to April 1, 2016 (that is, when this policy was approved) from collection materials owned by the Wesleyan library.

Other types of digital content that may be considered for the description, access, or preservation services provided by the Digital Lab include:

  • Born digital archival materials
  • Licensed or purchased digital content
  • Faculty and student-generated digital content
  • Open access scholarly content created by faculty

For digital content where the physical material is not owned by Wesleyan University library, inclusion in the digital library is conditional on the signing of a deed of gift that gives the library the non-exclusive right to manage and share the digital objects.

Digitization, description, access, and preservation services, as defined in this document and elsewhere on the Digital Lab webpages (, are intended for content that will be made accessible to the campus-wide community at a minimum.

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Digital Projects Librarian and updated as needed.


All efforts to build a successful digital library are collaborative. Selection is only one part of a complex system. The Digital Projects Librarian and the Digital Lab staff partner with colleagues throughout the library, in Information Technology Services (ITS), and across campus to ensure that the digital library is as successful as possible. We encourage patrons and staff to contact us with their ideas for enhancing the digital library and possibilities for collaboration. In addition to the feedback and suggestions staff receives from patrons, the lab utilizes web analytic tools to measure usage and aid understanding of patron need.

Working collaboratively with collection managers such as the Director of Special Collections and Archives, the University Archivist, and the Music Librarian, along with Wesleyan scholars, the Digital Projects Librarian selects paper-based and 3-dimensional collection materials for digitization and evaluates legacy digital content for inclusion in the digital library. The Digital Lab staff, managed by the Digital Projects Librarian, is responsible for digitization, description (enhancement and transformation), access, and preservation of the digital collections.

After selection, the Digital Projects Librarian determines:

  • A timeline for digitization, description, and access
  • Preservation and storage of the digital objects

Our digitization strategies follow national standards such as:

National Information Standard Organization (NISO) – A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections (pdf)
Federal Agencies Digitization Initiatives Still Image Working Group (FADGI) – Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials (pdf)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access


At a minimum, the Digital Lab digitizes the smallest complete item. For archival collections, the smallest level for digitization is usually the folder. For monographs, the entire book will be imaged.

Exceptions may be made for extremely time-sensitive cases where the content matches all selection criteria. In these cases, the complete object immediately becomes a priority for programmatic digitization.

Digitization activities typically fall into three categories:

Project-based digitization may be outsourced to digitization vendors or may be accomplished in the Digital Lab. These projects are usually the result of gifts or grants. There may be temporary staff involved and the projects may have specific deadlines and specifications for digitization beyond the adopted standards in the lab.

The Digital Lab accepts referrals for patron requests for publication-level images. These requests may be outsourced to a digitization vendor with all charges incurred to be paid by the patron or may be fulfilled by the Digital Lab for a one-time charge to non-Wesleyan patrons. Digital Lab charges effective July 1, 2015 are $20 per gigabyte with a minimum charge of $5. Imaging at publication level quality does not equate with copyright clearance. The patron must determine any copyright restrictions themselves. Once digitized, if applicable, the images will be added to the digital library.

Programmatic digitization is the ongoing digital capture of entire collections or large portions of collections and along themes identified by the Digital Projects Librarian with feedback and input from scholars and collection managers. This work is done by Digital Lab staff and is not funding-dependent or deadline driven.

Materials that receive frequent patron requests will be considered for programmatic digitization utilizing the selection factors described below.

Patrons of the library may make requests for collections to be considered for project-based or programmatic digitization. All requests will be weighed against the selection factors listed below and will be prioritized in conversation with other demands on departmental time and equipment.

Selection Factors

Materials are evaluated against several criteria when determining whether or not to digitize and at what level of capture, timeliness, and preservation. A rubric based on these criteria (see Appendix A) is applied to candidates for digitization when setting priorities for the Digital Lab.

The library seeks to digitize materials that are unique to and characteristic of Wesleyan University. Broadly, the library looks for opportunities that:

  • Contribute to existing projects at Wesleyan
  • Support classwork and student scholarship
  • Enhance access to materials on Wesleyan history
  • Highlight institutional strengths
  • Align with areas of faculty research
  • Enable new ways of interacting with content
  • Enhance access to materials on Middletown and Connecticut history
  • Represent a granting opportunity and/or an opportunity to collaborate with other institutions
  • Add a new perspective or point of view to the local or global digital corpus

We strive to accurately represent our rare and unique holdings in the digital library. Because some material may be in danger of being lost due to container condition or accessibility, in prioritizing materials for digitization, the library balances the need for fair representation and preservation of content with support of pedagogy and scholarship.

The selection criteria are described in more detail below.

Copyright Status

Content that is in the public domain, licensed under an open access or Creative Commons license, or for which Wesleyan University owns the copyright will receive high priority. Content for which Wesleyan University has been granted non-exclusive rights by the copyright holder to digitize and make publicly available will also receive high priority.

Works that are within copyright but are orphan works in that the copyright holder is not known or cannot be located will be considered for digitization. We follow the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Statement of Best Practices for Orphan Works (PDF) to determine protocol for digitizing these works.

Unpublished materials or materials that present privacy concerns or are not clearly in the public domain or with copyright held by Wesleyan will be considered for digitization following the guidelines put forth in OCLC’s policy, “Well-intentioned practice for putting digitized collections of unpublished materials online” (PDF, revised 5/28/2010 and endorsed by the Society of American Archivists, CLIR, and other organizations).

Significance of Materials

Considering an item’s worth is a subjective matter. We evaluate the significance of material based on its historic and institutional value (see the bulleted list above for some examples of criteria).

Current and Potential Users

The primary patrons of the digital library are current Wesleyan faculty and students followed by staff, administration, alumni, and parents. As such, priority will be given to content that will be used in current scholarly endeavors or that highlights past achievements within the Wesleyan community.


Priority will be given to content that is heavily used.

Organization and Metadata

Content must be described and organized prior to being considered for digitization. Monographs must have MARC records and archival materials must have minimal finding aids or at least a DACS-compliant collection level record. All description must already be in machine-readable form.

Materials that have not been organized and described may be considered if they meet other criteria points in this policy and if there are sufficient resources dedicated to the project so that organization, description, and digitization can happen in concert.

All metadata must adhere to national standards for the material type. It may be transformed and enhanced by the Digital Lab staff for the purposes of publishing and access.

Relationship to Other Collections

Content that will complement existing digital collections or will aid collaborative digital projects will receive high priority.

Priority will be given to enhancing existing digital collections at:

  • Wesleyan University
  • Connecticut, Trinity, Wesleyan Consortium (CTW)
  • Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA)

As well as to collaborative projects around complementary collections that are attached to grant or donor funding.

Funding Sources

Materials nominated for digitization that will receive external grant or donor funding will be prioritized for digitization activities.

Specifications and Formats

At this time, the Digital Lab is equipped to capture 2-dimensional paper and transmissive collection materials.

When necessary, the Digital Lab staff will partner with outside digitization vendors to support capture of other formats, like audio and video/film. The carriers for these time-based media are among the most endangered formats due to their environmental sensitivity, and also to the loss of equipment and loss of skill. It is a priority to identify rare and unique audio and moving image collection materials and to preserve their content through digitization.

Legacy Digital Objects

Digitization has been ongoing at Wesleyan for many years and as a result there are myriad digital objects being managed in a variety of ways across campus. In order to be considered for inclusion in the managed digital collections at the library, legacy digital objects:

  • Must be at least 3000 pixels across on the long edge (for image files)
  • Must be fully described and that description must be in an encoded, machine-readable format
  • Files must be in an accessible and current file format
  • Content must not violate copyright law


Materials that are in danger of becoming inaccessible due to their container will be prioritized for digitization as time, money, and equipment availability allows.


The lab will not re-capture content that has already been digitized, meets modern specifications and is available publicly for download from a respected repository. Respected repositories include, but are not limited to, HathiTrust, the Center for Research Libraries, the Internet Archive, or Google Books.

This exclusion may be over-ruled within special circumstances. Requestors must provide good reason to re-digitize these materials. The Digital Lab will evaluate such requests against the selection criteria described above.

Maintenance and Removal

A consideration for any proposed digitization work will be the necessary level of storage and preservation service. At a minimum all digital objects are stored on servers that are backed-up regularly with the content replicated in at least two locations. Materials that are particularly rare and unique or for which external funds were expended to complete digitization will receive higher preservation services such as those provided by the CTDA. These higher-level services have a monetary expense associated with them and that expense weighs in to any decision to digitize. Whenever possible, Wesleyan chooses to pay once and store forever. When digitization projects are undertaken at the request of a library patron, the patron must have identified funding to cover any associated fees for storage and preservation services.

Collection materials may be de-accessioned or removed due to collection weeding, storage issues, or copyright dispute. Decisions will be made by the Digital Projects Librarian with feedback and input from scholars and collection managers. Most materials will remain in storage even if public access is limited.