Preparing Materials for Digitization

Preparing materials for digitization by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center involves

  • assessing the physical condition of the materials
  • preparing an inventory listing each item or group of items to be digitized
  • delivering or sending the materials to the Digital Heritage Center.

Each institution is responsible for determining whether or not the materials selected for digitization are in good enough condition to withstand the digitization process. The Digital Heritage Center is trained in handling rare and fragile materials and the equipment used by the Center is designed to place as little physical strain on the materials as possible. However, some basic handling is necessary. The Digital Heritage Center will not digitize any materials that, in the judgment of the Center staff, will be harmed in the digitization process.

There are several steps that each institution should take in order to get materials ready for digitization.

  • Remove staples.
    When pages are stapled together, it is difficult to get a complete image of each page, and staples can also make it easier for pages to tear. Using paperclips (especially acid free vinyl-coated paperclips) is fine.
  • Make sure all pages can lay flat.
    If your institution is having paper materials digitized, please make sure that all pages can be opened all the way without tearing.
  • Secure loose materials.
    If the collection you’re having digitized includes scrapbooks or other types of materials that have photos or clippings attached, please make sure that all loose (or nearly loose) materials are secured to the appropriate page. This is a common problem with older scrapbooks where the glue has dried out.

Before bringing materials for digitization, institutions should prepare an inventory listing each item or group of items to be digitized. This should just be enough to identify each item or group of items. The inventory should be sent in advance of bringing the materials to Chapel Hill. This will help the Digital Heritage Center staff to schedule time for digitization of materials and to give your institution an estimate as to how long digitization will take. Please contact the Digital Heritage Center staff at with any questions about preparing an inventory of your materials.