Digital Services

Apr 13, 2006

Digital Services provides scanning support for ongoing digital projects in the Library and works closely with other areas such as Special Collections, Cataloging/Metadata, Preservation, and Information Technology. Our job is to assist with digital projects, including the digitization of collections, to make our collections more accessible to people, local and worldwide. A digital project converts printed, manuscript, and pictorial information into electronic images that can be viewed via a computer. The Library will provide improved and enhanced access to resources previously available only on site by converting some print and analog materials to digital formats. Future Library digital initiatives will expand beyond printed materials to include the digitization of image collections as well as audio and video recordings.

Once a picture, document, or collection of materials is digitized, it is described by a finding aid or metadata. When a digital project is completed, it can be delivered to users in a number of ways; on a terminal at our library or published on the Internet. Once in a computer environment, materials can be made accessible on an unrestricted basis, 24 hours a day, if published on a website. There are additional benefits of increased use, easier access, and enhanced protection of valuable documents.

The image that accompanies this article is of Margaret Hall (or Ladies' Hall), a women's dormitory at ISU taken in 1914. Margaret Hall was located approximately in the space where LeBaron Hall and the lawn to its east are currently located. The entryway to Margaret Hall faced south. The building was destroyed by fire in 1938.

Margaret Hall, 1914

If you visited the Iowa State Fair in 2004, you may remember that the University Museums was ISU's featured department that year. Part of their extensive display was images of ISU's campus art, and the first collaborative opportunity for the then recently-created Library Digital Services unit. A few weeks before the Fair, Digital Services agreed to provide the University Museums with several hundred digital images made from the Museums' slide collection - they became the main part of the Museums' Fair display.

Since then, the Library Digital Services unit has produced many of the images that make up the Library's growing digital collections. These collections are accessible through Multi-search via the Library's web site. The zoom capabilities and text descriptions of these images are all possible because of the Library's investment in an image access system called Luna Imaging. Other Luna users include the American Institute of Architects, Brown University, California Digital Library, Cornell University, Edinburgh College of Art, Field Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, National Medical Library, Pratt Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Yale University.

Digital Services' most recent and most visible equipment acquisition has been the self-service, public use scanner. The Knowledge Imaging Center (KIC) scanner offers users a digital option to paper copy machines. The KIC unit provides large scale scanning in color and grayscale, along with several file formats, storage, and delivery options. It is located on Floor 1 of the Parks Library, and is maintained by Digital Services.

The Library's collaborations with university-wide, campus, and community partners will increase intellectual access, complement instructional activities, and promote resource sharing. We will comply with current copyright practices and policies particularly those that relate to scholarly communication and fair use in the digital environment.

If you are interested in collaborating with the Library on a digital project, please contact Karen Lawson at or (515) 294-4037.