Digitization of materials provides users with unprecedented access to historic documents, records and rare books. Of course, no institution can afford to digitize its entire collection. What criteria should you use to decide which materials warrant digitization? Following is an excerpt from NEDCC's Preservation Leaflet 6.6: "Preservation and Selection for Digitization," which offers a framework to evaluate your collections.
Preservation photocopying and digital reproduction are both great options for preserving information that is printed on acidic paper or documents that are handled frequently. If you choose to copy, make sure to use a permanent, durable paper such as Permalife bond and a carbon pigment based toner that won't fade over time. The copier itself should be one that produces enough heat and pressure to permanently bond the toner with the paper. Test the adhesion with NARA's tape pull test, found at www.archives.gov/preservation/technical/peel-test.html. Digital reproduction can provide you with both a facsimile on permanent, durable paper and a digital file.
NOTE: Rare and valuable books may not be good candidates for copying because they can be damaged in the process. If you are interested in having a copy, you should contact a book conservator or a company that provides preservation facsimiles.
While digitizing collections, it is vital to remember to back up your computer files. How many times have you heard this? It seems simple, but a lapse can cost you time and money. Save valuable files, including digital photographs on CD, DVD or Blu-Ray discs and make at least two copies. Store the copies in different locations (such as home and office) to decrease the chance they'll both be lost in the same disaster.
Preservation Guidelines for Digitizing Library Materials © Library of Congress
Digital Preservation Portal © Library of Congress
Why Digitize? © Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)