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DLF and RLG Issue Guidelines for Digitizing Visual Resources

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release July 17, 2000

Contact: Daniel Greenstein (
202-939-4762 or
Jennifer Hartzell (

DLF and RLG Issue Guidelines for Digitizing Visual Resources

WASHINGTON, DC, AND MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF.—The Digital Library Federation (DLF) and Research Libraries Group (RLG) have issued Guides to Quality in Visual Resource Imaging, available at This new Web-based reference is designed to serve the growing community of museums, archives, and research libraries that are turning to digital conversion to provide greater access to their visual resources and help preserve the original materials. “Visual resources” include original photographs, prints, drawings, and maps. Both project managers and technicians will find the Guides particularly valuable in filling a gap in the literature for serious digital imaging projects. They provide concrete guidelines as well as help in addressing rapidly changing aspects of technology and practice.

The five guides—which range from project planning to scanner selection, considerations for imaging systems, digital master quality, and masters’ storage—share the experience and knowledge of leaders in this field. In addition to providing advice based on the uses to which the images will be put and the technology now available, they also flag areas where further research and testing are needed.

“Guides such as these promise to maximize effective exploitation of digital technologies while minimizing costly redundant effort,” said Dan Greenstein, DLF’s director. “The development and maintenance of good practice guidelines is an essentially collaborative effort requiring inclusive and iterative evaluation. We welcome comments, criticisms, and amendments for incorporation in future revisions.”

The Guides are the outcome of a project begun by DLF and RLG in 1998, when they created an editorial board of experts to review the state of the art in digital imaging of visual resources. Although sources for instruction in digitizing text or text and images existed (and more have become available since then), none specifically addressed the challenges of two- and three-dimensional, as well as color-intensive, materials. These experts outlined a set of guides needed in the science of imaging—objective measures for image qualities and how they can be controlled in various aspects of the imaging process. DLF then commissioned board-recommended authors to write the guides, which the two organizations have now jointly published.

“We are very pleased that this collaboration between the Digital Library Federation and the Research Libraries Group has produced a set of expert and timely tools for project leaders and their teams around the world,” said Linda West, RLG’s director of Member Programs and Initiatives. “It is a contribution to informed and long-lasting digital decision-making and practices in research collections.”

The Guides are:

  • Planning a Digital Imaging Project, by Linda Serenson Colet, Museum of Modern Art
  • Selecting a Scanner, by Don Williams, Eastman Kodak Company
  • Imaging Systems: the Range of Factors Affecting Image Quality, by Donald D’Amato, Mitretek Systems
  • Measuring Quality of Digital Masters, and
  • File Formats for Digital Masters, both by Franziska Frey, Image Permanence Institute

Each guide is a module that can stand on its own; as a set, the Guides provide comprehensive advice on how to find what an imaging team needs to accomplish stated goals with the available technology. The Guides also help to clarify the consequences of trade-offs that all managers must make to stay within organizations’ means. The Guides will be updated periodically.

The Digital Library Federation is a partnership of research libraries dedicated to creating, maintaining, expanding, and preserving a distributed collection of digital materials accessible to scholars and to a wider public. It operates under the umbrella of the Council on Library and Information Resources, which works in partnership with libraries, archives, and other information providers to advocate collaborative approaches to preserving the nation’s intellectual heritage and strengthening the many components of its information system.

The Research Libraries Group is a not-for-profit membership corporation of over 160 universities, national libraries, archives, historical societies, and other institutions, devoted to the mission of “improving access to information that supports research and learning.” In addition to a range of collaborative activities that address members’ shared goals, RLG develops and operates databases and software to serve the information needs of member and nonmember institutions and individuals around the world.

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