Access to born-digital & audiovisual materials

The Small Special Collections Library has developed workflows for the proper preservation of and access to born-digital and audiovisual collection materials. This space will be updated as we learn more from the process.

Born-digital materials are defined as media/data that originated electronically. Audiovisual materials are defined as visual and/or sound recordings irrespective of their physical base and recording process used. The bulk of born-digital and audiovisual collections at the Small Library are in the form of obsolete media, though an increasing number of collection materials are networked and do not have a physical media carrier within our reach or purview.

Requesting access or copies

Researchers interested in pursuing access to born-digital or audiovisual collections items should submit a Duplication Order Request using the form linked below. Please note that there is a minimum six (6) week turnaround for these requests.

Duplication Order Request form

In the request, please include the following information:

  1. Subject: BORN-DIGITAL REQUEST-[your last name] or AUDIOVISUAL REQUEST-[your last name]
  2. Call Number (the collection or accession number)
  3. Collection Title
  4. Box or Page number(s)
    • Insert a description of the item (i.e. disk1234, flash drive, hard drive, CD 045, Phonodisc 0688, etc...)
  5. Is this item born-digital and/or audio/video material?
    • Click the "Yes, this item born-digital and/or audio/video material" button
  6. Additional Description
    • Provide context for what you are looking to access (specific years, correspondence, speeches, reports, etc...)

Once received, your order will be assigned to the staff member best able to assist you. This person will communicate with you about timeline, format, access and delivery options, as well as our policy around copyright and intellectual property rights, if any exist for the item(s).

(Accommodations for faster turnaround times for UVA students may be arranged; put in a request here.)

Access to certain materials will require an onsite visit to the Special Collections reading room. Reasons for this include: 

  • Donor-imposed restrictions 
  • Rights or privacy requirements/limitations 
  • When duplication/reformatting is not allowed by law or UVA policy 
  • When duplication/reformatting is not possible due to lack of funds, condition of the media, etc. 
  • When access is dependent on software that is only available onsite

Audiovisual vs. born-digital media types

Audiovisual media

Born-digital media

*Microfilm may be requested through interlibrary loan or digitized by request through the Digital Production Group.


We work to offer access to the born-digital content stored on drives, disks, and other formats in our collections. These materials, however, may include obsolete file formats, files requiring proprietary or obsolete software to open or render them, complex digital objects, or files that require a legacy operating system. While we will do our best, we may not be able to provide access to all our born-digital content.

High-volume requests or requests for materials on problematic or damaged carrier formats may require additional lead time or outsourced reformatting by a specialized vendor at the researcher's cost.

You may need to seek outside assistance to fully render or utilize the digital material.

Copyright & permissions

Copyrights in Library materials are typically owned by third parties, and it is the sole responsibility of the user or recipient of copies of Small Special Collections Library materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to any distribution or publication. Staff will make researchers aware whenever known copyright or intellectual property rights are associated with born-digital or audiovisual items and collections, but do not solicit permissions on behalf of the researcher.

Any use of Special Collections images or materials is subject to the user or recipient’s agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Virginia, its officers, employees and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions and expenses. By your use of these materials, you agree to these responsibilities, including the noted legal protections of the University of Virginia. The Small Special Collections Library does not provide nor sign formal permissions forms or letters of any kind.

Sources used in creating this page