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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 collection materials as well as digital objects that were digitized prior to April 1, 2016 (when this policy was first approved) from collection materials owned by the Wesleyan library.

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

  • Born digital archival materials
  • 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.

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Digital Collections Committee and updated as needed.

Digital Collections Committee

All efforts to build a successful digital library are collaborative. The Digital Collections Committee (DCC) 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 and Wesleyan scholars, the Digital Collections Committee selects collection materials for digitization and evaluates legacy digital content for inclusion in the digital library.

After selection, the Digital Collections Committee determines the prioritization and workflow for the project. Generally, for projects managed internally, Digital Lab staff manage the digitization, description (enhancement and transformation), access, and preservation of digital collections. However, in some cases, a library department may elect to manage and conduct their own project. Sponsorship and management will be decided in discussion with the Digital Collections Committee and will be noted in project documentation.


Digitization activities typically fall into four categories:

Project-based digitization may be outsourced to digitization vendors or may be accomplished in the library. There may be temporary staff involved and the projects may have specific deadlines and specifications for digitization beyond the library’s adopted standards.

The library accepts patron requests for research and publication-level digitization. Publication-level 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 (see Fee Schedule for details). 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 Collections Committee. Digitization for preservation in the ongoing capture of materials identified as being at risk due to physical condition. This work is not funding-dependent or deadline driven.

Materials that receive frequent patron research-level digitization 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.

Digitization strategies at the library 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 (PDF)

Selection Factors

The library seeks to digitize materials that are unique to and characteristic of Wesleyan University. Materials are evaluated against several criteria when determining whether or not to digitize and at what level of capture, timeliness, and preservation.

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.

Specific selection criteria are described in more detail below.

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. 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
  • Add a new perspective or point of view to the local or global digital corpus

Materials under consideration for digitization that match one or more of these criteria are considered a high priority for digitization.

Organization and Metadata

Content must be described and organized prior to being considered for digitization. Monographs, audio, and video recordings must have MARC records and archival materials must have at least DACS-compliant single level description. All description must already be in machine-readable form.

Materials that have not been organized and described will 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, and may be transformed and enhanced by the Digital Lab staff for the purposes of publishing and access.

After determining the likelihood of digitizing materials based on the two criteria above, the DCC prioritizes and makes further consideration for the likelihood of digitization based on additional criteria listed 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 for digitization. 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 at a lower priority to allow time to investigate copyright. 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, materials that present privacy concerns, that are not clearly in the public domain, or for which Wesleyan does not hold the copyright will be considered for digitization at a lower priority and 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).

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, high priority will be given to content that will be used in current scholarly endeavors or that highlights past achievements within the Wesleyan community.


In prioritizing projects, the DCC preferences projects that will be made fully available without restriction. Some materials warrant digitization in spite of a limited case for access.


High priority will be given to content where the physical equivalent is already heavily used.

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)

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. Materials that have no funding source will be prioritized for digitization as time, funding, and equipment availability allows.


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

Time-based media

The carriers for the time-based media are among the most endangered formats due to their environmental sensitivity as well as the loss of equipment and loss of skill. Unlike paper materials, with time-based media digitization is considered the method of preservation. It is a high 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


The library 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.

Exceptions to this policy may occur based on the needs of the requestor and the condition of the specific collection. The Digital Collections Committee will evaluate requests for re-digitization 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 may receive higher preservation services. These higher-level services have a monetary expense associated with them and that expense weighs into any decision to digitize. 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 (if necessary).

Collection materials may be deaccessioned or removed due to collection evaluation, storage issues, or copyright dispute. Decisions will be made by the Digital Collections Committee. Most materials will remain in storage even if public access is limited.

[revised 2018]