Culture In Transit


While libraries, archives, and partners such as Internet Archive and Google have digitized and made billions of resources available online over the past decades, there is still a long trail of documents, newsletters, photographs, and other materials in the hands of smaller institutions and community members that are in effect invisible because they are not yet available online.

CIT_Knight.jpgCulture in Transit (CIT)
, a project of METRO in partnership with Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library,  will address this issue by taking shared digitization technologies and expertise to libraries, archives, and communities throughout the metropolitan New York area to digitize and share the city’s rich cultural heritage online with the world. 

CIT is being funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of their Knight News Challenge on Libraries.

METRO will send a Mobile Digitization Specialist out to cultural heritage institutions with interesting materials to share online. Over the next year, our goals are to:

  • Provide on-site digitization services at 10-12 host institutions across the Metropolitan New York area.


More information about METRO's plans for this project can be found below. In the meantime, we are interested in hearing from institutions who might be interested in participating.

Please fill out this online form to let us know about your interest in the project.


Who can participate in CIT?

All METRO member institutions are eligible. We are particularly interested in members who do not have the facilities to digitize their processed collections and/or who have not yet had the opportunity to make their collections available online. 

What is required on behalf of the institution?

  • Identify and select small amounts of material* that can be digitized (at no cost) by METRO’s Mobile Digitization Specialist.

  • Host the Mobile Digitization Specialist for up to two weeks on-site to digitize the material. The Specialist will bring the equipment, but will need an appropriate space in which to carry out the work.

  • Agree to make the newly digitized collection accessible online on the METRO’s  DCMNY site, and to share records for the newly digitized collection with the Digital Public Library of America.

*Due to the nature of the project and the commitment to work with between 10-15 institutions, we will not be able to digitize large collections. Small collections or a small series within a larger collection will work best for the project.  

Projected Project Timeline (subject to adjustment)



Call for Expressions of Interest

June 2015

Identify/schedule first round institutions   

July – August 2015

First round of on-site visits and scanning

August – December 2015

Identify/schedule second round institutions  

November – December 2015

Second round of on-site visits and scanning

January – April 2016

Make content available online (DCMNY/DPLA)

Ongoing throughout the project


Types of materials

We can digitize:

  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Maps
  • Glass plate negatives / slides
  • Broadsides
  • Pamphlets
  • Letters
  • Short Documents (i.e., 10 - 15 pages or fewer)*

*We will consider larger documents and longer douments on a case-by-case basis.

We are not able to digitize:

  • Microfilm
  • Newspapers
  • Audio/visual material
  • 35mm film
  • Books (scrapbooks may be considered)
  • Items that are too fragile for handling


Some Guidelines for Selection

We would encourage institutions to consider the following in identifying materials for CIT:

  • Uniqueness

  • Items with interesting stories

  • Items that have local/national and historical significance

  • Materials that will be of interest to a broad audience

  • Use – popular items from your collections

  • Materials that are difficult to access in physical form (i.e. due to size, or condition)

For additional information:

For inquiries about METRO's Culture in Transit initiative, please contact us at

More information on the project can be found on the project website -

You can also follow the project on Twitter - @DigitizeNYC.