University of California Selection Criteria for Digitization (PAG)

The following list of criteria is recommended to guide collection development librarians and preservation librarians in selecting collections of analog materials (including paper, film, audio, and video) for conversion to digital format. Some of the criteria are based on conventional selection and preservation considerations common to all formats; others arise from the opportunities and constraints unique to digital technologies.

The collection to be converted and the digital technology to be used should be evaluated against some or all of the following criteria, depending on the degree of emphasis on collection development, access, and preservation goals. Please note that to date digital technologies have not achieved stability adequate for preservation of analog materials when the digital version is intended to replace, rather than supplement, the analog version.


Collection Development:

1. Meets information needs of faculty, students, and scholars within and beyond the UC community.

2. Has advocacy for conversion from one or more broad scholarly constituencies.


3. Has a preservation problem (ie, risk of damage or loss due to high use, poor housing, or physical deterioration).


4. Meets interests of funding agency.

5. Generates institutional prestige.


Collection Development:

6. Adds information value over paper-based copies:

  • greater currency of information;
  • greater functionality such as the ability to invoke linkages to related resources.

7. Contributes to “critical mass” of digital materials in the subject, thereby increasing the value of information.


8. Enjoys a commitment from the Library to its maintenance through time and changes in technology (refreshment and migration), and security threats (natural disaster, machine failure, and intentional corruption of files) based on a Library policy to ensure continuing access to materials of permanent research value that the Library digitizes.

9. Can be captured adequately in digital form, without damage to the originals, to enable the digital document to serve as a surrogate for the original document, thereby reducing demand for (and wear and tear on) the originals.


10. Can be integrated into library service programs.

11. Is accessible from institutionally-supported computing platforms and networked environments conforming to standards in use by the library community.

12. Can be delivered with reasonable speed.

13. Solves technical problems with access to the originals (eg, fragile, large format) and/or consolidates diverse formats (eg, combination of paper and film formats in one bibliographic work).

14. Is controlled by any necessary restrictions to access dictated by the content of the materials.

15. Uses interfaces easy to master by ordinary users.

16. Has appropriate metadata for:

  • document identification;
  • technical capture information;
  • provenance;
  • navigation to and within the information resource (e.g., multiple access points, indexing, full-text searching, document structure).

17. Can be authenticated.


18. Meets interests of funding agency.

19. Achieves consonance with consortial and national digital initiatives.

20. Has marketability in digital form and/or creates partnerships with commercial information providers.


For further information, contact:


Barclay W. Ogden, Director


University of California Preservation Program


Last reviewed: March 4, 2004