Collections Principle 1

Collections Principle 1: A good digital collection is created according to an explicit collection development policy that has been agreed upon and documented before building the collection begins.

Of all factors, collection development is most closely tied to an organization’s own goals and constituencies. Collection builders should be able to refer to the mission statement of their organization and articulate how a proposed collection furthers or supports that mission. The institution should be able to identify the target audience(s) for the collection but also think about unexpected uses and users. If the institution collects print, artifacts or other non-digital materials, the digital collection should fit in with the organization’s overall collection policy.

There are a few cases where a selection policy may not be required: digitization on demand, when an organization is creating digital content based on end-user requests, and mass digitization programs, which are often indiscriminate. Even these efforts require planning and should follow principles for building good collections as appropriate. Disciplinary or institutional repositories that encourage users to deposit their own intellectual property present an interesting case. These still benefit from a published collection policy, but it may have to be fairly flexible in acknowledgement that the users may be the best judges of relevance.

The following documents are general guidelines for selecting materials for digitization.

Local policies on selecting materials for digitization:

National library policies for digitized and born digital materials:

Criteria for inclusion in portals:

Selecting materials for digitization specifically for preservation purposes:

Selecting born-digital content for preservation:

Comment: Columbia Selection Criteria no longer available by karen.wetzel on 09/03/2008
Under "Local policies on selecting materials for digitization," Columbia University Libraries, Selection Criteria for Digital Imaging (2001)

This resource is no longer available on the Columbia University website.
Comment: Incorrect date on UC Libraries' Selection Criteria by karen.wetzel on 09/03/2008
Under "Local policies on selecting materials for digitization": University of California Libraries, Selection Criteria for Digitization (2005)

The date above is listed as 2005. This document is dated, however "24apr97a" and has a note that the webpage was last reviewed in 2004.
Last updated: 09/03/2008