Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Moving Image Digitization Project, 2014

Moving Image Digitization LogoThe North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is launching a pilot project to help preserve and improve access to historic films and videos in North Carolina’s libraries, archives, and museums. Working with its partners around the state, the Center will select a small number of films and videos, which will then be sent to a vendor to be digitized. The resulting digital files will be published online at where they will be made freely available to all users. The original films or videos will be returned to the institutions that contributed them.

We are inviting our existing partners, as well as cultural heritage organizations that have not yet worked with the Center, to nominate moving images from their collections. (See to determine if your organization is eligible.) The Center will evaluate all of the nominations (see evaluation criteria). in an effort to select a variety of content in different formats and which represents the cultural and geographic diversity of North Carolina.

Contact the Digital Heritage Center at or (919) 962-4836 if you are interested in suggesting material to digitize or if you have any questions.

Why Is this Just a Pilot Project?

Digitization and online streaming of historic films and videos is complicated and expensive. This project is an effort to determine the cost and viability of providing moving image digitization services to North Carolina Digital Heritage Center partners.

Why Is Everything Being Digitized by a Vendor?

Right now, the Digital Heritage Center has neither the equipment nor the expertise necessary to handle and digitize historic moving images. Working with an experienced vendor will be the most efficient and most affordable way for us to make this content available to users.

How Will the Vendor Be Chosen?

State laws require that we open up this project to a bidding process. While we do not know what vendors will bid and what prices they will offer, we will require that the work is done by a vendor that has experience working with rare and fragile materials.

What If I’m Not Comfortable Sending Materials From My Collection to a Vendor?

We understand that not every institution will want to send unique and fragile materials off site. However, for this project, we have decided that working with an experienced vendor is the best way for us to provide access to this content. Materials that cannot be sent to a vendor will not be selected for digitization as part of this project.

I’ve Got Films That Are in Pretty Bad Shape. Can I Still Suggest Those?

Yes. We understand that many of the historic films in libraries and archives are in poor condition. That’s part of why we want to provide a service like this. We will make sure that we work with a digitization vendor that has experience evaluating the condition of historic films and we will not proceed with digitization if the conversion process is going to harm the original.

What About Copyright?

We will work with each institution to help determine the copyright status of the items nominated for digitization. For films that were created by individuals or companies, we will ask the nominating institution to make an effort to get permission to have the film digitized and shared online.

How Long Will This Take?

We don’t know. That’s part of what we are going to determine as we work on this project. You should expect your materials to be off site for at least a few months.

How Many Films or Videos Will Be Digitized?

It depends. Format, condition, and length are all factors that will contribute to the cost of digitizing historic moving images. We will prioritize the films and videos we’ve selected and digitize as many as we can with what we’ve budgeted for this project.

Selection Criteria for the Moving Image Digitization Project, 2014

  • Is the film or video believed to be unique to your collection, or are there copies at other institutions?
  • Do you have equipment available to play the film or video?
  • Is the media believed to be at least 40 years old?
  • Are you willing to have the film or video sent to a vendor to be digitized?
  • Is there a catalog record or anything describing the content of the film or video?
  • Does the media cover a time period of historical significance?  (For example: Civil War, Great Depression, World War II).
  • Was the film or video created by, or does it contain significant content by or about one of North Carolina’s historically underrepresented communities?
  • Is the media from a county or region that is already represented on or other digital library projects?
  • Is there a demonstrated demand for online access to the film or video?  If so, are there examples, such as requests from users or community members?
  • If this media is digitized, is the contributing institution willing to promote the media through press releases and other announcements or programs?

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