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Digitization is the creation and management of digital objects from physical, analog originals. The Alliance has compiled this set of digitization resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

AAM Resources

Museopunks Podcast Episode 41: Digitization is not neutral

This episode of Museopunks, the podcast for the progressive museum, the Punks are joined by Mathilde Pavis and Andrea Wallace to discuss their Response to the 2018 Sarr-Savoy Report, which addresses intellectual property rights and open access relevant to the digitization and restitution of African Cultural Heritage and associated materials, and come to the conclusion that we need to be discussing digital cultural heritage with far more nuance.

Prioritizing Image Descriptions and Digital Equity at Cooper Hewitt

This post on the Alliance blog comes from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which has formed a cross-departmental team to take on the important task of writing tens of thousands of image descriptions.

What Mexican bugs have to do with Italian Paintings: How digital tools can be used to explore complex connections

Over the course of a three year grant period, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) created a digital, interactive map that situates its objects within a broader context. The Digital Experience (TDX) team, a cross-functional team, led the work and includes members from curatorial, education, and media and technology.

Other Resources

The following resources were compiled from organizations throughout the nonprofit and museum sector. AAM reviewed and approved each one based on the organization’s authority and expertise and the resource’s usefulness related to the topic. Clicking the links below will take you off the AAM website.

Digitising Collections

The Collections Trust (UK) provides a helpful resource for museums to help guide digitization projects. This tool defines what is meant by digitization through to how to store digital assets.

Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) offers a comprehensive document called A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections (PDF). For each category of collections, objects, metadata, and projects, the Framework defines general principles relating to quality and provides a list of supporting resources such as standards, guidelines, best practices, explanations, discussions, clearinghouses, and case studies. The Framework has earned wide recognition in the museum and library communities.


Through Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC), iDigBio provides a place for institutions to upload data and images of biological specimens for availability to the research community, government agencies, students, educators, and the general public.

Learning from the Getty’s Electronic Cataloging Initiative

The Getty Foundation shares its 2007 report entitled “L.A. Online: Learning from the Getty’s Electronic Cataloging Initiative” (PDF, 48 pages). This synopsis of their collaborative initiative to digitize the collections of museums and visual arts organizations in L.A. is useful to museums of all disciplines – both large and small – which are interested in pursuing a collections digitization project. The report provides testimonials, case studies, and includes a breakdown of the initial and ongoing costs museums can expect.

Searching for Sustainability: Strategies from Eight Digitized Special Collections

The Association of Research Libraries’ Searching for Sustainability (PDF) report includes eight cases studies about one of the biggest challenges facing libraries and cultural heritage organizations: how to move their special collections into the 21st century through digitization while developing successful strategies to make sure those collections remain accessible and relevant over time.

Standards Portal

The Society of American Archivists shares its standards portal, which includes guidelines and best practices on administration, digitization, ethics, and education for all types of archival collections.

Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) shares its Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access. The guidelines define approaches for creating digital images to facilitate access and reproduction and include best practices on metadata, imaging workflow, digitization specifications, storage, and quality control. The document also includes a technical overview with essential information for those digitizing content for web access. The 87-page PDF can be accessed from this introductory page.

Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials

This revision of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative’s Still Image Working Group’s guidelines incorporates material reflecting the advances in imaging science and cultural heritage imaging best practices.

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