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Digital Collections and Repository Program (D-CARP): Prioritization and Selection Criteria


Metadata information - Cataloging/Digital Library Program Task Force Requirements


UHM Library holds a large number of collections that would be appropriate for digitization and online access. However, digitization projects are costly and require a commitment of staff time. The following list of criteria is recommended to guide selection of collections of analog materials for conversion to digital format. Selection is an activity led by content managers and specialists with the help of D-CARP.

Copyright Status
What is the copyright status of the materials?  Most material considered for digitization and access on the open Web falls into one of the following three categories:

  • Public domain: works that never were, or are no longer covered by copyright. Works in the public domain may be used without permission.
  • All works published before January 1, 1923.
  • Works published between 1923 and 1964 and not renewed in the 28th year.
  • Works published without copyright notice before 1989.
  • Unpublished works whose author died before 1932; otherwise, the term is life plus 70 years.
  • Works for which the copyright is held by the University
  • Works for which we have secured permission to digitize

Significance of the Collection
Significance depends on a number of indicators, but it is always the subjective judgment of a librarian, archivist, curator, or faculty member. The following questions may be used to establish the significance of a collection:

  • Will experts attest to the importance of the collection?
  • How does it fit into current or potential research activities?
  • How is the collection currently being used? How might digitization increase use of the collection
  • Does the intellectual quality of the source materials warrant the level of access made possible by digitization?
  • Will digitization enhance the intellectual value of the material?

Current and Potential Users
There is some evidence that digitization always increases use, but current use is still an important indicator:

  • Are users consulting the proposed source materials?
  • Is current access so difficult that digitization will create a new audience?
  • Will electronic access to these materials enhance their value to users?
  • Does the physical condition of the originals limit their use?
  • Will digitization meet the needs of local users?

Organization and Descriptive Metadata
No matter how important a collection might be, the collection must be organized and described before it is ready for digitization.

  • Has the collection been organized and processed?
  • Are there MARC records or some other form of catalogued records for the collection?
  • Is there a finding aid - either paper or online?

If there is no form of description by way of a finding aid, catalogued entries, etc., project planning and project costs will increase.

Relationship to Other Digital Collections
It is important to contribute to "critical mass" of digital materials in the subject whenever possible. By complementing existing online collections, the value of your collection will enhance the subject area and, in turn, the user experience.

  • If published material, has it already been digitized? All? Parts of the collection?
  • How does this collection fit in with other digital collections? Will the whole be greater than the sum of the parts?
  • Are there complementary collections in other institutions?

Formats/Languages/Nature of the Materials
Some formats are more established for digitization and online delivery than others. D-CARP is best equipped to provide sustainable access to text, photographs, other 2-D visual materials, and compressed audio. We do not currently support the online storage and delivery of video.

Foreign-language materials require project staff who are proficient in the language(s), which may add to the difficulty of assembling the project team. Creation of text for non-Western languages requires the creatir to enter text in this language and it may not be possible to provide searchable text, either corrected or uncorrected.

Materials must be able to withstand the handling necessary for digitization. If the determination has been made that the items can withstand digitization, the condition of the material will also be a factor in deciding whether to outsource digitization or perform the work in-house.

Sources of Funding
Digitization projects are funded with internal university funds and external grant funds.  The goal is to match a high-priority project with the appropriate funding source. The best approach with regard to grant funding is to develop skeletal outlines for digitization projects for a number of important collections and then research potential funding sources. Once a good match has been found, the details of project planning can be finalized, bringing the project in line with funding requirements and evaluative criteria as closely as possible.

The following criteria are designed to assess strengths and weaknesses of a proposed project and promote an analytical approach. They should be used to establish a strong rationale when requesting support from internal or external sources but they do not have equal weight, and not all may be relevant to any given project.

  • The project provides significant support for research and instruction.
  • There are faculty and library advocates for the project.
  • The project's intrinsic value will ensure long-term use by a significant audience within and/or beyond the University community.
  • The project can be completed with available funding, or has the potential to generate funding through grants, donors, or other external fund sources.
  • The project will strengthen or enhance an existing digital resource, become part of an important virtual collection, or support a national initiative such as those sponsored by Association of Research Libraries and Digital Library Federation.
  • University of Hawaii has intellectual property rights to the content and can manage any required restrictions to access, or can realistically solve any rights issues.
  • The project falls within traditional areas of library service or moves our services in a direction consonant with the Library's strategic directions.
  • The project advances sustainable models for scholarly publishing.
  • The project brings credit to UH Manoa library in a manner likely to generate further digital library projects and funding.
  • The project has local or regional importance, and represents an effort only UH Manoa/Library D-CARP can initiate.
  • The project is reasonable, practical, and achievable.
  • The project saves money in the long term by eliminating the need to acquire resources, or by freeing up staff time.
  • The project creates or sustains a partnership that the library will find valuable for future development.
  • There is a compelling argument for digitizing material that is deteriorating.
  • The project will expand our technical infrastructure or contribute to the development of national digital library standards.

[adapted from:, accessed 10/30/08]

Hawaiian/Pacific Collections and appropriate collection development librarians set the priority for materials to be digitized and for cooperative digital projects, in consultation with appropriate colleagues in DNS, Cataloging and Preservation departments, and other collections.

PRIORITY based on:

a.  Importance of collection
b.  Need to disseminate information
c.  Availability of information elsewhere
d.  Availability of funding
e.  Availability of staffing
f.  Form of final digital product (language, where hosted or archived, fee-based or free, etc.)


a.  Purpose of project
b.  Audience
c.  Copyright clearance process
d.  Funding
e.  Description of collection
f.  Timeframe
g.  Staffing
h.  Equipment/Supplies/Workspace
i.  Processing, pre and post digitiztion
j.  Digitizing standards and quality control
k.  Metadata
l.  Access and standardized search method
m.  Future considerations
n.  Cooperative projects

- June 2006