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Program Digital Collections Management Compendium

Digital Surrogate Creation and Management

This guidance outlines the procedures and guidelines governing the creation of digital surrogates of the Library's analog collections.

The Library of Congress has multiple approaches and workflows that produce digital surrogates of its collection content. This includes work carried out to create digital versions of items according to preservation standards, to create digital surrogates for access and exhibitions, to enhance user access, and to provide reliable copies to Congress, registered readers, researchers and other users. Since digitization for these purposes is typically used to preserve or provide access to the Library's analog collections, the digital surrogates resulting from the projects are considered to be part of the Library's digital collections, unless otherwise specified.

This guidance summarizes the approaches to governing and prioritizing digitization projects, the standards for these processes, and the primary methods for managing the creation of this content. Overall, the digitization of Library collections is governed by the Library of Congress Digitization Strategy (2023-2027), which states that "the Library will expand, optimize, and centralize its collections digitization program to significantly expand access to users across the country to rare, distinctive, and unique collection materials which can be made openly available online and use digitization as a core method for preservation reformatting of rights restricted collection materials." The Strategy, which complements the Library's Digital Collections Strategy, links digitization activities to the Library's overall strategic planning, and articulates the Library's intentions and priorities for digitization within five years of each revision. Numerous factors affect how and when digitization projects and processes are initiated, including the assessment of appropriate resource needs, appropriate standards for deliverables depending on content type and presentation needs, storage planning, long-term collection preservation, and access of collections, as appropriate. Moreover, the creation of new digital items also entails new collection management needs, including storage requirements, metadata management, and systems maintenance, which require staff oversight and management. Digitization projects may follow a variety of principles and specifications depending on the needs and value of the physical sources, plans for delivery and access, and significant properties of originals (for example, see the Preservation Directorate's "Principles and Specifications" for digital reformatting). Projects are designed according to appropriate, recognized standards and guidelines, including the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative and other recognized standards maintained by or adhered to by the Library.