Collaborative-Centered Digital Curation: A Case Study at Clemson U. Libraries

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 for free (PDF) or purchase the complete book online at 

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Emily Gore and Mandy Mastrovita (Clemson University)


2011-01-18_0914 This article will discuss the authors' experience in building and outfitting a regional scan center to serve Clemson University and the South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL), the state's digital library initiative. The authors describe their experiences regarding the establishment of a new unit armed with the task of providing digital curation, imaging, and technological services within an academic library that previously had very few. A subset of their discussion regarding the overarching observations and challenges will also include issues that have arisen within their multiple imaging production workflows, content management, shared metadata, and preservation responsibilities. Throughout the article, the authors address the pervasive and complex relationships between collaboration, sustainability, storage, preservation and access that they have greeted on a daily basis.


Clemson University officially established its digitization initiative in the fall of 2007 by establishing a library unit for Digital Initiatives and hiring a unit head. Most large academic libraries like Clemson established digitization initiatives in the 1990s or early 2000s, but there are distinct advantages to beginning an initiative later. One distinct advantage was that we could learn from others and from the best practices and standards in an already established field. Another advantage is that we could begin to think about the blending of digitization initiatives, institutional repository development, data curation and the preservation of digital assets -- in other words, we began thinking in terms of data curation instead of simply digitization. A third, and possibly the greatest advantage, was that we could join existing collaboratives and be instrumental in starting others. In our opinion, collaboration is the key to building sustainable digital initiatives, so we wanted to make sure we took advantage of collaborative opportunities from the start.

Establishing the Initiative

Learning from established best practices, prior experiences and contacts with vendors, Clemson University Libraries decided to equip a scan center and object photography studio as the production center for its new digital initiative. The concept behind the development of this scan center is that it would be used not only for projects centered at Clemson, but also for collaborative projects as part of our statewide digital library effort, the South Carolina Digital Library ( As one of the 3 core partners for the South Carolina Digital Library (with the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston), Clemson's goal was to establish a scan center to meet the needs of cultural heritage institutions in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Staffing for these collaborative projects has been covered in part by funding provided by the State Library of South Carolina through Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding. LSTA funding is awarded to states on a formulaic basis by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In addition to part-time staffing, LSTA funds have supported the purchase of one scanning station (Dell computer and Epson 10000XL scanner).

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