Format migration

duvalierWhen we preserve digitized content in our repository, we make a commitment not just to the content as it exists today, but also to migrating the content to a new format as standards and technologies change. We have two collections from Tamiment-Wagner, the Poster and Broadside Collection and the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs. These images came to us several years ago in a proprietary Kodak format and we preserved them to the technical specifications recommended at the time. Today, the standard has changed, and so we will be migrating to a new file format. We will also be updating the colorspace for these images, as our standards have changed in that regard as well.

Take-Down Policy

mss100_ref47_n000005_sCertain collections contain materials with multiple copyright holders. Even if NYU Libraries owns a collection, we may or may not be able to make all of its materials available to the public online. For this reason, Special Collections developed a take-down policy. At long last, thanks to the tenacity of several individuals (not least of whom was Michael Stoller), the policy has been approved and posted on the Fales Web site.

This means that some collections, including the very extensive Judson Memorial Church Archive as well as the Mendez Mural Community Garden Archive, can be made available. We are very excited to move these collections forward. Watch this space for an update when these collections are live!

Publication Workflows

As some of you saw at the table-top discussion on March 19, DLTS is standardizing its publication workflows. In the past, we built Web sites. Now, we run a publication service that puts content online according to its type. Image sets, books, and audio/video each have their own workflow and ultimate destination. These destinations are pools of resources, from which we can draw content for a Web site or a discovery engine.

The image set workflow is fairly mature, book publishing is nearly there, and audio/video publishing is in the works. Once we complete the necessary infrastructure changes, we will be publishing everything in our backlog. Ultimately, we hope to catch up to our digitization process, which continues to be far ahead of publishing.

Here is the workflow diagram:

publishing flowchart

Format Challenges


We just finished digitizing a collection from Tamiment-Wagner of photos from  Camp Kinderland. The original photos were on glass negatives, which posed an interesting challenge in digitizing. We had to reset our camera to handle this format. Now, as we process the digitized images, we are finding that our usual format for master files, TIFF6, is not ideal for these images because we will lose information. We are currently exploring our options. This is just an example of the type of challenges our digitization team faces in preserving materials of various formats.

ACO Update

ACO Book CoverAs many of you may know, the Arabic Collections Online project is the largest digitization effort DLTS has ever undertaken. Ultimately, it will include over 10,000 books. We are pleased to report that the wheel is turning and we have digitized several hundred titles over the past few months. The digitization, QC, and ingest process are mature at this point and so we expect a steady stream of content to be moved through that process. We still need to finalize our workflows for publication and cataloging, but work in these areas is ongoing.

Updates on the Afghanistan Digital Library project

home_booksThe Afghanistan Digital Library project, begun at NYU in 2003, was designed to digitize and make available on the web as many Afghan publications as possible from the period 1871–1930, the first sixty years of Afghanistan’s published cultural heritage. Users can browse through the books on the website or download complete PDF copies of every volume on the site. The ADL works are in the public domain and all images may be freely reproduced, distributed and transmitted by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial.


  • There are currently 574 titles on the ADL website. We will soon publish another set of books scanned by the British Library.
  • Most months we get between 2000-3000 unique visitors to the site. We are also contacted regularly via email by users thanking us for making these books available. Sometimes they even offer to contribute new materials.
  • Over the coming year we will migrate the ADL website, built in the mid-2000s, to a new website with an updated book viewer.

Learn more about the Afghanistan Digital Library, including funders, related projects, and bibliographies of printed works during the target period.

Questions? Email us at

Multivolume sets, series, collections – oh my!

We’ve been delving deeply into our book publishing process, refining it so that we can accommodate the needs of the Ancient World Digital Library, Arabic Collections Online, and Indian Ocean, among others. One of the many new pieces of information we’ve absorbed is the notion of a “series” for ancient studies. For those who don’t know (we didn’t, either), a series is a set of books, each of which may be its own entity or part of a multivolume set. Each book in a series may have a volume number for that series, and people in the field may refer to that book by its series name and volume number. Therefore, it’s important to capture and display this information with the books, and to allow researchers to view books in a given series.

I’ve created a diagram in which I attempted to describe the relationships among collections, series, subjects, and multivolume sets: