Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Digitization in a Box: How South Carolina Enabled Public Libraries to Digitize Local Collections

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Digitization in a Box: How South Carolina Enabled Public Libraries to Digitize Local Collections

Article excerpt

Digitization is essential to the accessibility of collections for libraries, archives, and cultural institutions. For many public libraries in South Carolina, the lack of funding, trained staffers or competent volunteers, equipment, and time to undergo a digitization project are barriers to progress. The Digitization in a Box Project ( was created by the South Carolina State Library (SCSL) to address the needs and concerns of public libraries in the state that want to digitize but, for lack of resources, cannot do so.

The Digitization Landscape of South Carolina

South Carolina has one public municipal library and 42 county library systems, including headquarters, branches, and bookmobiles. In 2014, the SCSL shared a SurveyMonkey survey with the library systems in an effort to collect data on the state of digitization. The survey asked if they were digitizing, what areas of digitization were important to them, what held them back from digitization, and what forms of training would be most helpful for their library. Twenty-two systems responded, and 59% of respondents were not digitizing. The reasons they were not digitizing were the need for training, equipment, staffers/volunteers, financing, and time. Additionally, respondents felt in-person training would be the best option--as opposed to written instruction, group discussion, and webinars. With these responses in mind, in fall 2014, the SCSL unveiled the Digitization in a Box Project to address the needs and concerns of the state's public libraries.

The program supports SCSL's mission to "serve the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries...." Of the libraries served, public libraries are a high priority. The Digitization in a Box Project allows public libraries in South Carolina to borrow an Epson Expression 11000XL scanner with cables, a laptop, a portable hard drive, a project guide, and software from the SCSL to start a new digitization project. Equipment is loaned for 2 months, with setup and on-site training provided by the collections management and digitization department on best practices in scanning, workflows, and metadata.

Partnering With the SCDL and the DPLA

To meet the need for accessibility and preservation, the SCSL partnered with the South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL; The SCDL is a statewide digital collection that provides a one-stop shop with free access to historic materials that illustrate the history and culture of South Carolina. The SCDL began more than 10 years ago when a number of librarians, archivists, and other information professionals came together to discuss the idea of creating a shared digital repository portal. From this initial meeting, the SCDL developed. It's a freely accessible, centralized search portal that links digitized primary resources from more than 50 institutions around South Carolina.

In 2007, the SCDL was officially established among the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the College of Charleston. These three institutions serve as hubs, with one residing in each geographic area of the state: upstate, midlands, and lowcountry. When a public library completes digitization through the Digitization in a Box Project, the collection is uploaded to the SCDL by one of the hubs. The SCDL also serves as the South Carolina Service Hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). DPLA adds another point of access--a wide-reaching one.

Digitization in a Box Project in Action

The project begins with a public library applying for the Digitization in a Box Project on the SCSL website. Supported projects include materials in the public domain or those with permission to digitize. Content must be of interest to South Carolinians and/or support the educational, recreational, and informational needs of the state's citizenry. Although there is no stated limit on the number of items the borrowing library can scan, each is encouraged to limit its collection to a small amount that can reasonably be scanned in the 2-month loan period. …

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