University of Virginia Library - Digital collections strategy

The University of Virginia Library collects, organizes, preserves, and provides access to rich and varied resources in support of the research and teaching missions of the University. Its collection is not static but rather adaptable in response to past, current, and future needs of the University. The Library aligns its approach to the University’s strategic priorities by collecting a broad range of materials to support excellence in leadership, scholarship, and global engagement.

The collection development and management strategy expressed here guides the work of the Collections Management Team, operating in collegial collaboration with the Digital Library Collections Advisory Team, Library subject liaisons, Library Preservation Services, and University faculty to provide access to information, images, data, music, time-based media, etc. It is designed to provide a framework for digital collection development, management, and preservation while remaining flexible and responsive to changing University and Library priorities.

Through its collections, regardless of current or original format, the Library affirms the University’s commitment to the advancement, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge in a facilitative, accessible, inclusive, and impartial environment. Accordingly, the Library’s digital collection management strategy:

  • advocates intellectual freedom in support of diverse points of view and confidential, equitable access to information;
  • respects intellectual property and author rights in current and emerging methods of scholarly output;
  • endorses open access and digital initiatives in scholarly publication and communication;
  • focuses on content which can be freely shared;
  • considers broad types of data and information, including non-textual materials;
  • seeks to promote discoverability and accessibility, enrich useful Library spaces, protect physical materials, and provide scholars with thoughtfully curated collections.

Determining factors for including materials in the digital collections workflow:

  • Value to user community

    • High-use of analog materials
    • Defined (and anticipated) community of users
    • Physical condition or access limits use of analog materials
    • Digital materials will enhance user experience
    • Current materials are dispersed
    • Extent to which the digitized version replicates the original
  • Copyright – public domain, open access, University-held copyright, granted permissions

  • Accessibility

    • Compliance with accessibility standards appropriate at time of digitization
    • Identify opportunities for equitable access
    • Recommend review schedule for meeting evolving accessibility standards
  • Significance

    • Important and distinctive information not well provided in other resources
    • Value to the University community
    • Complements existing collections (no orphan materials)
    • Digitization affects the intellectual value of the resource
    • Relationship to other materials.  How would digitization impact use?
  • Relationship to current collections materials

    • Digital collection fills gaps
    • Coherent collections and access
    • Collaborative opportunities within and outside the Library
    • Supports the Library and University’s mission (scholarly discourse, social justice, lifelong learning)
    • Transforms teaching or research
    • Provides opportunities to expose hidden or underrepresented voices
  • Organization and Metadata

    • Grant- or gift- funds accompany the project
    • Resources necessary to organize and process the collection
    • Metadata currently available
    • Alignment with national standards
    • Completeness of existing metadata
  • Preservation

    • Identify resources needed to provide stability and accessibility to the content
    • Articulate rights related to faculty and student intellectual content
    • Capture and review secondary characteristics (relationships of parts to the whole, provenance, integrity, etc.)
    • Define the versioning process
    • Consider applicability of 3rd-party alternatives for preservation, re-formatting, and dissemination
    • Evaluate and prepare for potential damage to original materials through the digitization process           

The Digital Collections Strategy specifically excludes:

  • non-unique materials for curricular support, and
  • materials which violate privacy laws or policies

Decommissioning Digital Collections:

The Library carefully acquires, evaluates, manages, and preserves its digital materials. However, there are circumstances that call for tough decisions regarding the decommissioning of materials, such as:

  • recognizing the lifecycle of resources and information and removing materials which are no longer usable or useful to University programs
  • responding to copyright disputes
  • protecting privacy
  • preservation challenges, e.g. technical resources to repair something which cannot be fixed or has long-term renderability issues

With profound thanks to colleagues at other academic libraries from whom we have drawn inspiration in the preparation of this policy. Statements from California Digital Library, Columbia University, Emory University, and Georgetown University were used as models for this document.