Bodleian Libraries digital policies: Digitization

The Bodleian Libraries actively creates and acquires digitized versions of its collection materials.


a) The primary goal of digitization is to enhance access to materials for readers and where possible to the general public.

b) Digitization may also have preservation benefits, ensuring continuing access to materials that are in danger of loss due to deterioration or obsolescence. Readers may be asked to consult a digital surrogate first and in some cases may be refused access to the original.

c) Digitization activities within the Bodleian Libraries encompass audio, still image, moving image and text-based reformatting of collection materials.

d) The Bodleian Libraries does not have a single standard for digitization, but develops standards based on the characteristics of the materials being digitized and the use requirements.

e) All digitized materials must have metadata in a form supported by the Bodleian Libraries.

f) All digitized materials that the Bodleian Libraries have the legal right to retain - whether created within or outside of the Bodleian Libraries - will be digitally curated within the Libraries’ Digital Asset Management System (DAMS). Subject specific responsibility for digitized materials lies with the curator(s) of the original material(s).

g) Digitization activities will be sustainable. Curatorial and digitization experts within the Libraries will determine the cost and benefits of different options and locate and secure project resources, and resources for ongoing curation, as needed.

h) Where rights permit, digitized collections will be made publicly available for use through digital.bodleian and through other sites as appropriate. Where possible, materials will be made available under a Creative Commons License (CC-BY-NC-SA).

i) Third parties may use the Libraries’ digitized materials either by harvesting metadata or, for images, by embedding the tile-based image server. In all cases, this sort of embedded use is preferable to downloading and re-use of the Libraries’ digitized materials. Third party use of material from externalized storage will only be allowed under special conditions.

Selection for Digitization

Most digitization activities at the Bodleian Libraries currently take place within the context of a project. Selection of the materials to be digitized is therefore influenced by the needs and scope of the project, but should comply with the principles above. Additionally, project managers and governing bodies are asked to consider both the condition of the collection materials (including potential conservation costs and activities), and the potential demand from readers for the materials that might be selected. If the digitization is taking place outside of the context of a project, those responsible for selection should also consider the same.


For planning and management purposes, digitization activities should be thought of in two general categories – special collections and non special collections. These two categories should set the baseline for project specifications and will also determine the default user interface for these collections.

Relationship with other policies

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Digital Preservation Policy and the Metadata Policy.


 (1) Audit: The Bodleian Libraries Executive Committee is responsible for ensuring effective auditing procedures for the Libraries’ digitization activities, and may delegate this responsibility to the appropriate groups or specialists. Where a new digitization initiative is proposed the proposal will be referred to the Associate Director for Digital Library Programmes and the Academic Library Services Strategy Group (ALSSG) for consideration.

(2) Review: This policy will be reviewed before the end of each calendar year by the Digital Library Steering Group. 

(3) Editor and primary contact for the Digitization Policy:

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