Policy approved by Library Executive on 7 November 2013.

Policy Statement

This policy outlines the University Library’s approach to the digitisation of its collections to support the teaching, discovery and engagement activities of The University of Queensland.  One of the goals in the UQ Library Strategic Plan 2013 – 2017 is to digitise and make available unique materials.

Objectives of the Policy

Through digitisation the Library aims to extend and enhance access to its collections across all discipline areas and formats via the UQ Library website.  Digitisation will:

  1. Provide library customers with easy and convenient access to the digitised content of its collections
  2. Preserve fragile,  rare  and  ‘at risk’ collections
  3. Ensure material in high demand is readily available
  4. Provide specific services to visually impaired research students and staff
  5. Enhance the discoverability and accessibility of unique material authored by UQ students or held in specific collections to be discoverable and accessible
  6. Provide preservation services for new digital collections as they emerge and plan for their future custodianship.


Digitisation is defined as being the conversion of analogue items into digital format. It can also relate to digital to digital conversion and its related processing to make the material usable.  All formats of material currently held in the Library are included in the policy for example theses, photographs, maps, audio tapes, charts and ephemera. 

Digitisation Principles

  1. All digitisation will comply with relevant legislation and license provisions
  2. All digitisation will comply with accepted standards and practices for digital capture, storage, preservation and access.  Detailed specifications will be established for all digitisation projects in line with international best practise.
  3. Digital preservation strategies will ensure the risk of permanent loss of content, through software/hardware obsolescence or degradation or damage is minimised. The major strategy will be migration to more recent file types using proactive management on a yearly basis of review and KPI’s.
  4. A ‘digitise and describe once for many purposes’ practice will avoid duplication. All metadata to be consistent with ‘Principles for the Storage and Handling of Metadata (available via LibNet)
  5. Digitisation will be undertaken in house or by external contractors operating remotely or on-site.
  6. Partnerships with local, state, national and international parties will be undertaken if the digitised content will support the teaching, discovery and engagement activities of the University
  7. Digitised material will meet both the long and short term needs of library customers


Criteria for selection of material to be digitised must be consistent with the UQ Library Collection Development Policy and includes:

  • Cultural and/or historical significance
  • Uniqueness and/or rarity of the material
  • Material in high demand
  • Copyright status or permission to digitise obtained
  • Material to support groups of students (such as visually impaired)
  • Material at risk because of its physical condition or format obsolescence (such as sound and audio-visual recordings)

Removal of digitised material

Material may be removed from public access if the removal is consistent with the UQ Library Retention, Disposal and Warehousing Policy or from a ‘take-down’ notice.

Priority for digitisation

The Library will determine the priorities for digitisation based on several factors, including:

  • research value,
  • alignment with University’s strategic priorities and Library’s strategic and operational plans
  • preservation of materials
  • urgency of the request, funding and condition of the item to be digitised. 


Most digitisation activities fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Ongoing– entire collections or larger groups of collections that are not generally subject to very tight deadlines
  • On demand –one-off requests to support teaching and research activities all on-demand requests are subject to staffing resources at the time of request
  • Funded– specific funds are allocated to projects.  

Digitisation projects


Reason for digitisation


All UQ Research Higher Degree

Unique items


Out of Print material

To ensure ongoing access

On demand

Course resources (print only)

High demand material 

On demand

Identified ‘at risk’ collections

Preservation and accessibility

Priority collections funded as part of the annual collection development/library materials budget/

Off air recordings

To support teaching and research


Architectural slides

To support teaching e.g. DigiLib project

Ongoing/funded subject to receiving funds

Fryer Library exhibitions

To support online exhibitions and/or as part of a UQ sponsored event such as a conference.

On demand – but dependant on staffing

Earth Sciences material

To support the re-establishment of the collection

On demand

Print material  

To support library or university programs such as the UQ ERA submission, visually impaired research students and staff and document delivery

On demand

Fryer Library collections

To increase access and discoverability also preservation

On demand/funded Funding from annual collection development/library materials  budget

Digitisation specifications, standards and workflows

Digitisation specifications that reflect best practice or standards should be developed for each format of material/projects.  The specifications should also reflect the anticipated use of the material and length of time material will be available digitally (available via LibNet).

 (Digitistisation workflows and post digitisation processing should be established for each format of material/projects (available via LibNet).


All digitised files will be stored securely by the Library with appropriate backup systems. Where possible both archival and working files are to be retained. In some partnership arrangements copies of files will also be stored as per the partnership agreement.


All digitised content will be described and recorded in either UQ eSpace or the Library’s discovery system that are harvested by internet search engines to facilitate discovery. Additional descriptions may be added via online exhibition systems. 


Each format of material to have core metadata relevant to the format is to be described (available via LibNet)

Where ever possible preservation metadata will be recorded for each digital object that will assist in ensuring essential contextual, historical and technical information are preserved (available via LibNet).


All material will be searchable using a range of search techniques and queries including Optical Character Recognition (OCR), search by various metadata fields relevant to subject, author etc. Preference will be given to making digitised material freely available via the internet. Utilising 3rd party software and expertise where it is beneficial to do so (TROVE etc).  If this is not possible content will be restricted to current UQ staff and students via the Library authentication systems.

Off air recordings may be streamed via the internet to increase accessibility.

Provision of copies of digital material

For items that are not freely available via the internet and subject to relevant legislation and contractual arrangements the Library may provide a copy of the digital material for research purposes on request. 

Digitisation equipment/facilities

All digitisation equipment will be purchased following a detailed evaluation of suitable options.  Equipment includes robotic scanners, multifunction devices, flatbed scanners, cameras etc.  Related software must also be evaluated to ensure compatibility with equipment. 

Digitisation facilities must meet occupational health and safety guidelines. 

If large amounts of material are to be digitised equipment should be co-located to avoid moving and/or damaging the material.

Funding for digitisation

Funds are made available for staffing via the staffing budget. 

Digitisation projects undertaken by external companies are funded from the Library Collection Budget, one off funding or grants.

Equipment and software is funded the Library Equipment Budget, one-off funding or grants.


Material that will be damaged if digitised may be excluded from this policy.


Contact Digitisation for more information about digitisation policy and projects.