Digital Treasures: The Evolution of a Digital Repository in Massachusetts

The following chapter excerpt is from the fourth section of Digitization in the Real World; "One Plus One is Greater Than Two: Collaborative Projects."  Download the entire chapter (PDF) or purchase online at


Dodie Gaudet (Central MA Regional Library Systems)
Kristi Chadwick (Central/Western MA Automated Resource Sharing System)
Jan Resnick (Western MA Regional Library System)


Digital Treasures is a digital library collection of the history of central and western Massachusetts. It is a collaborative project among Central/Western MA Automated Resource Sharing System (C/W MARS), Central MA Regional Library System (CMRLS) and Western MA Regional Library System (WMRLS). Initiated by C/W MARS in 2006, Digital Treasures began as a pilot program when C/W MARS purchased equipment and software and set up a scanning lab at its headquarters in Worcester. Currently Digital Treasures has 36 collections from libraries, with over 1,300 accessible images. C/W MARS, CMRLS and WMRLS continue to collaborate on ways to bring funding, selection guidance and metadata expertise to their member libraries and bring access to the wealth of cultural history of the Commonwealth.

History and Background

In the early 1960s, three Regional Library Systems were formed in Massachusetts to provide a variety of services directly to the public libraries in the western, central, and eastern parts of the state. The services were (and still are) provided at no cost since the Regions are funded by the state. When automation began entering libraries some 20 years later, the WMRLS (Western Massachusetts Regional Library System, 2010) and CMRLS (Central Massachusetts Regional Library System, n.d.) were instrumental in helping to establish a fee-for-service automated network available to all types of libraries named Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing or C/W MARS (C/W MARS Inc, 2009).

In 1998, the Regional Library Systems became multi-type. All public libraries are automatically members of a Massachusetts Regional Library System (MRLS). All academic, school, and special libraries are eligible for membership if they meet basic qualifications. Any WMRLS or CMRLS member can join C/W MARS by paying the membership fees. Not all libraries choose to join C/W MARS: some are small and cannot afford the fees; others are larger, have their own network staff and prefer a stand-alone Integrated Library System. The number of libraries in WMRLS and CMRLS is larger than the number in C/W MARS. As of March 1, 2010 membership in the three organizations broke down as follows

























 With the imminent development of Digital Commonwealth, a state-wide portal and digital repository, CMRLS and C/W MARS were both interested in setting up a small lab so that libraries could begin scanning photos, documents and other items which could also be discovered via the state-wide portal. A Regional Library System and an automated network in the eastern part of the state had each purchased a scanner and offered instruction on its use, but few libraries took advantage of the opportunity. Considering this, C/W MARS proposed that one of its tech-savvy staff members who had an interest in digital photography be in charge of the lab and do the actual scanning if local library staff supplied the metadata. CMRLS had a cataloger on staff who could conduct workshops on Dublin Core and be available for metadata consultation. Since the offices of the two organizations are a mere seven miles apart, joining forces to support a single repository made the most sense and Digital Treasures (see Digital Treasure, 2009) was born.


Download the entire chapter (PDF) or purchase online at


C/W MARS Inc. (2009). Connecting libraries in Central and Western Massachusetts. Retrieved on May 2, 2010 from

CDP Metadata Working Group. (2006). Dublin Core metadata best practices, version 2.2.1. Retrieved on March 31, 2010 from

Central Massachusetts Regional Library System. (n.d.). Homepage. Retrieved on May 2, 2010 from

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Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. (2008). DCMI metadata terms. Retrieved on March 31, 2010 from

Open Archives Initiative (n.d.). Standards for web content interoperability. Retrieved on March 31, 2010 from

Western Massachusetts Regional Library System. (2010). Western Massachusetts Regional Library System - Libraries Cooperating Communicating Sharing. Retrieved on May 10, 2010 from