Related product Collections Management

Book Digitization Initiative

Status Update

The CARLI Board of Directors recently approved funding for the digitization of the student yearbooks OR the student newspaper for all CARLI Governing members. Information about this new effort is available at Yearbook Digitization Project. The digitization of yearbooks and newspapers will take priority over the digitization of other materials for the CARLI Book Digitization Initiative. If funds remain available each fiscal year then CARLI will announce a call for proposals for other items.


CARLI has partnered with the Open Content Alliance to provide a digitization opportunity for Illinois academic and research libraries. The CARLI/OCA Book Digitization Initiative provides funding to support the conversion of materials from physical formats to electronic/digital formats in order to make them more readily accessible for resource sharing. The initiative expands digitized collections providing optimal access to, and preservation of, unique materials in Illinois.

Materials that have been digitized for CARLI by the Open Content Alliance are freely available to CARLI libraries and the world, through the Internet Archive. Participating institutions retain full rights to the digital files for use in perpetuity.

Using the Materials from the CARLI Book Digitization Initiative (~ 4 minutes)


CARLI Governing and Affiliate member libraries may apply to digitize portions of their collections, and may collaborate with other organizations or agencies in the state of Illinois such as historical societies, museums, or scientific or technological institutions. Applications to digitize materials that will enhance “Illinois Culture and Heritage” will be given priority.

Items eligible for the Digitization Initiative include books, serials, and pamphlets that have more than ten pages, that have not been digitized to Open Content Alliance standards, and are free from copyright restrictions (e.g. items in the public domain, government documents, items for which the participants own the copyright). CARLI will accept applications for collections of any size. The materials must meet the physical criteria established for digitization machinery, and be suitable for digitization.

Items to be digitized must either be fully cataloged (MARC) and available in the institution’s catalog through a z39.50 connection (for proposals with several hundred items), or the shipping spreadsheet must be completed so that it may be used to create the metadata.

Certain types of institutional publications including yearbooks, course catalogs, campus directories, and other internal publications may only be digitized with a 50% cost share. Institutional minutes are not funded for digitization. Information about potential cost sharing is available by contacting the CARLI Office at .

Quarterly Informational Webinars

Webinars about the initiative and the application process will be offered quarterly 2-3 weeks prior to the application deadlines. Webinars may also be arranged upon request by sending a note to . The webinars will last approximately 30-60 minutes.


Digitization applications will be reviewed and accepted throughout the year, and applications are encouraged at any time. Proposals submitted by the following dates will be reviewed within 30 days:

  • November 1
  • December 15
  • March 1
  • June 1

Applications* must include the following information:

  • A completed cover sheet that includes the volume count and an estimated page count.
  • A description of materials to be digitized, including a statement on copyright and the right of the participants to digitized the proposed items. (1 paragraph)
  • A description of how materials enhance “Illinois Culture and Heritage”? (1 paragraph)
  • A list of items to be digitized.
  • A completed Director/Designee Signature Sheet.

NOTE: Please download the fillable PDF form to your local directory before entering any data.

Submission Information

One Adobe PDF file that includes the cover sheet, proposal, and supporting attachments should be submitted to . The automated CARLI Request Tracker system will receive the message and generate an email reply to the submitter with the unique “ticket number”. After receipt and review of the documents, an acknowledgement will be emailed to the submitter. The electronic copy will be considered the official copy. If an application is accepted, a copy of the application will be made public on the CARLI website.

Each participating institution must provide a signature sheet from the library director/designee to indicate agreement with the terms of the proposal and compliance with institutional requirements. The signature sheet should be submitted separately from the application, and may be submitted by fax (217) 244-7596 or by email to .

If Your Application is Accepted:

In order to ensure that each digitization project proceeds quickly and seamlessly, it is the responsibility of participating institutions to:

  • Determine the official “contributor” name that should be used to identify your institution and your materials on the Internet Archive web site and in any promotional materials.
  • Provide information needed to create a collection/institutional page on the Internet Archive site, and respond to other requests for information to aid the project.
  • Prepare your materials for digitization in a timely manner, following the guidelines provided by CARLI. The digitization site will scan everything that institutions send to them, regardless of the condition of the item. Materials that should be excluded or rejected based on the condition of the item should be flagged to the attention of the digitization staff.
  • Help with the setup of the z39.50 for your institution, if requested.
  • Create a shipping list for the materials to be have digitized.
  • Request shipping labels from the CARLI office.
  • Ship your materials in a timely manner.
  • Review the digitized files to confirm that you are satisfied with the digitization.
  • Notify the program coordinator in a timely manner about any digitization problems.
  • Notify the program coordinator when items may be shipped back to you.


Staff from the Internet Archive (IA) will digitize materials using their Non-Destructive Scanning Station at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The work will be completed utilizing IA staff to reformat the material. More information about the logistics will be available during the online webinars.

Overview of the Internet Archive scanning process

Physical Criteria for Scanning


  • Books
  • Serials
  • Pamphlets


  • 9.7 wide by 14.5 high at the maximum. Books as small as 3 inches x 3 inches may possibly be scanned. This is the size of the book itself, not the text.
  • Books must be less than 4 inches thick.

Book Style:

  • Side bound monographs or pamphlets only; no single sheets, no top bound books.
  • Rebound books need to be checked for how tight the gutter or binding is, or if the text runs outside the margin (it will show the cradle).
  • Books should generally be in stable condition. It’s OK if cover is detached, as long as the book block is intact. Extremely brittle books should be rejected

Paper Style:

  • All pages should be pre-cut.
  • Pages should not be dusty, mildewy or moldy, or have pages that stick together.


  • Any book where the text (or marginalia) is less than a quarter inch off the gutter is unscannable.
  • Similarly, there should be at least a quarter inch between text and edge of page. Text that runs to the edge of the page or margin can be scanned but the presentation will be poor as the cradle will show.

Funded Projects Archive

To view proposals that have been accepted since the program began in March 2008, visit the Funded Projects archive.

Additional Information

Proposal Cover Sheet

Director/Designee Signature Sheet

Spreadsheet for Itemized Appendix of Materials to be Digitized

Shipping Spreadsheet (required for shipping materials in accepted proposals)

Updated October 2012