The Library of Congress is among a dozen federal agencies launching an initiative to establish a common set of guidelines for digitizing historical materials. Basing its efforts on a combination of collaborative research and combined experience, the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative will address a variety of issues related to the complex activities involved in the digitization of cultural heritage items.
Two working groups have been formed, one addressing content that can be captured in still images, the other involved with content categorizing sound, video, or motion-picture film. The initiative includes a just-launched Web site, www.digitizationguidelines.gov.
The Federal Agencies Still Image Digitization Working Group will focus its efforts on content such as books, manuscripts, maps, and photographic prints and negatives. Its members include the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Gallery of Art, the National Library of Medicine, the National Technical Information Service, the National Transportation Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Government Printing Office. An Advisory Board of technical experts from industry and academia will also contribute to the initiative.
The Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group, which will address standards and practices for sound, video, and motion picture film, includes the Defense Visual Information Directorate of the Department of Defense, the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office and the Voice of America.
The agencies began meeting in 2007 to identify common practices for digitizing cultural heritage materials in a sustainable way. Establishing guidelines is expected to increase the quality and consistency of digitized documents and media that are made available to the public, streamline workflows and reduce costs, promote the exchange of research, and encourage collaboration across agencies. The guidelines will also provide common benchmarks for digitization service providers and manufacturers.
The Web site currently features two documents developed by the Still Image Digitization Working Group that are open for comment until mid-November. The first proposes a minimal set of embedded TIFF metadata for use in historical and cultural heritage digital imaging. The second two-part document presents a taxonomy of digital image characteristics and provides corresponding metrics and criteria to describe and validate imaging performance and quality.
The Web site also provides a glossary of digitization terms and concepts, and presents digitization-related news and events on the subject from the participating agencies.
This collaborative effort initially formed under the auspices of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), a Library of Congress-led program initiated by Congress in December 2000 to develop a national strategy to collect and preserve digital content. For more information on NDIIPP visit www.digitalpreservation.gov.