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Digitization for Librarians

Video Tutorials

Required Metadata


The New Hampshire Digital Library metadata committee has provided the following guidance for metadata (see chart below). 

Identifier dc.identifier Required An unambiguous reference to the resource.
Title dc.title Required Include the creator of the item (if known) and the subject matter in the title, particularly the location if known.
Creator dc.creator Strongly Recommended The person or organization responsible for creating the item, such as an author or photographer
Contributor dc.contributor Optional an illustrator of a book, or a curator of a collection. If a personal name, enter in Lastname, Firstname format.
Publisher dc.publisher Optional Name of the person, organization, or service responsible for publishing the original resource.
Rights dc.rights Required No Copyright; etc. 
Description dc.description Strongly Recommended A free-text description of the resource.
Subject dc.subject Strongly Recommended Topic of described resource.
Location dc.coverage Strongly Recommended The location or area that is described or represented by the resource.
Date Strongly Recommended YYYY-MM-DD, YYYY-MM, or YYYY for a single known date.
Type dc.type Required StillImage; Text, etc. 
Format dc.format Optional A description of the physical manifestation of the resource.
Language dc.language Required English: eng French: fre
Physical Repository dc.provenance Required Who currently has possession of the item

Describing Digital Objects

This presentation was provided to NH public librarians by Jay Colbert, UNH Metadata & Discovery Strategy Librarian in March 2022. 

Scanning v. Photographing


How many times do we whip out our mobile phones to take photos of family photo albums and think, “well, that was easy” or “better than nothing.” I am guilty of doing this myself…

A digital photo of an old family photo…

But what about cheating a bit and taking photos of materials for your digital libraries? Well, that probably depends on the objects you wish to capture. The text image here taken with my iPhone X looks pretty good at a readable level.

Click to enlarge — it’s still pretty crisp.

But what about taking photos with your iPhone of old photographs? Hasn’t the iPhone replaced your family camera? The image below looks pretty good. It was taken with an iPhone X and exported in full size at a file size of 1.2MB.

Let’s compare two items: the photo on the left was scanned with an older Epson scanner at 400 dpi. The photo to the right was captured with an iPhone X.

Here are the two images with some zoom.

And here is an extreme zoom. You can tell that the image captured with the scanner does a much better job of capturing the image.

And here is a photo taken with a higher-end Sony DSLR. Note that while the image does not look pixilated, it lacks the definition found in the scanned image.

Check out the NH Digital Library imaging guidelines for more information.

Of note: Perhaps I am missing an important setting to capture images better on the DSLR.

Creating Oral Histories

Using little more than the technology we walk around with every day, collecting oral histories is easier than ever.

For more information on oral histories and podcasting, please see the compiled “classwork” on Google Classroom, course code: vu10li

Here are the steps I took to record and post an oral history with New Hampshire State Librarian Michael York. Find the interview here.

  • Consider your purpose for the oral history.
    • In my case, I want to capture memories from State Library staff.
  • Consider copyright issues and obtain permission in the form of a release form from all parties on tape. There are various releases available in books and websites about oral histories. I have compiled some of these in the Google Classroom section under “Legal and Ethical Issues.”
  • Test, test, and retest your recording app, microphone, and equipment. There are plenty of recording options.
    • For this recording I used Audacity on a Mac computer. However, the software is no longer supported for Macs running Catalina OS, so I will move to a voice recording app, such as Voice Memos or Garage Band on my iPhone.
    • I used a dual-head lavalier microphone to allow for a better recording quality (highly recommended, ~$22).
    • Record yourself and listen. Do you cringe with every “ummm” or “well…?”
  • Conduct research or a preliminary interview with your subject and compile questions in advance of the interview.
  • Edit the recording, if needed. Aside from clipping the start and finish, I did not do much editing.
  • Transcribe the finished recording.
    • I tried different (free) methods — including listenng and then quickly reading the audio back into Google Docs’ voice recognition — but ultimately found that listening to a sentence, pausing, and typing was most efficient for me.
  • I converted the audio file to an MP3 file by simply importing the file into iTunes, editing the metadata, and saving a copy as an MP3. Note: On a Windows computer, iTunes will still be the easiest way to convert an m4a file to mp3. However, WordPress is able to handle m4a files natively. (Omeka’s ability to handle m4a is unknown at this time.)
  • Content management systems, like WordPress and Omeka, natively provide audio controls for the uploaded MP3 file.

Scanning Slides

Why Slides?

One question I get from time to time is how to digitize slides. Anyone of a certain age (ah-hem) will remember family slide show evenings. In my case, most of my childhood was archived to slides with very few actual photos remaining, so digitizing the slides became very important to recapturing those memories.


I have been using the same low-cost scanner, an Epson Perfection V330 Photo ($180), for more than a decade now. The scanner has an attachment to nicely handle four slides per scan or a strip of film negative. If you have a few dozen slides — or have the time to slowly digitize a collection — this might be a good solution for you. But if you have boxes of slides, it might be worth sending the entire batch to a professional digitizing service.

This seems obvious, but have an eyeglass cleaning cleaning cloth handy to wipe down your scanner glass and the slides themselves before starting and throughout the process. Every time I picked up slides from the glass I left dust and fingerprints behind.

Image Quality

In order to capture as much detail as possible on this drawing, I set the pixels to the (near) maximum of 1200 and set a custom output to a ridiculously high size of 3000 by 4000 pixels to get as much detail as possible. Even then, when you zoom into the images, the images are somewhat pixelated.

Preferences for Digitization

The State Library holds a large print copy of these images. If given the choice of digitizing slides or large print images, I would certainly choose to digitize the print images. But in the case of my personal family photos — like many family photos — I have no choice but to digitize the slides.

Click and scroll to zoom in on the image.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the New Hampshire State Library.