Related product Digital Collections (CONTENTdm)

Digital Collection Development Policy


This policy addresses digital collections CARLI member libraries contribute to a consortially-provided digital asset management system (DAMS) and are stored on resources managed by or for CARLI. Governing member libraries are encouraged to plan, develop, and contribute digital collections so that the state's historical and cultural resources can be made widely available. Digital collections are created and maintained as shared resources for CARLI institutions and for others accessing them from any place in the world.

Such collections include:

  1. Collection(s) licensed by CARLI for the use of CARLI institutions
  2. Collection(s) developed by one or more CARLI institutions

These digital collections are made available free of charge through a website, CARLI Digital Collections, which was designed and is maintained by CARLI staff with input from CARLI member contributors.

Mission and Guiding Principles

CARLI digital collections are created and maintained in keeping with the mission statement of the organization itself:

"The Consortium empowers Illinois academic libraries to create and sustain a rich, supportive, and diverse knowledge environment that furthers excellence in teaching, learning, research, and innovation in order to serve students, faculty, and researchers. As a collective, CARLI adds value to member libraries of all types, sizes, and missions by sharing costs, collections, expertise, programs, products, and services."

Collections within CARLI Digital Collections must be curated and have research, teaching, and learning value for CARLI member institutions. The digital collections are not to serve as institutional archives, digital learning object repositories, or substitutes for permanent preservation. Access to collections hosted by CARLI Digital Collections may not be restricted to only one campus or campus unit; they must be freely available to all CARLI member institutions.

Collection Development Criteria

Content of the collections included in the CARLI Digital Collections website should:

  • Support the curricula of CARLI institutions.
  • Have strong, immediate yet durable interest and research value within CARLI and beyond.
  • Represent the depth and diversity of the historical and cultural resources of Illinois' academic and research libraries, especially rare or unique materials.
  • Adhere to digitization and metadata best practice standards adopted by CARLI.
  • Contain accurate, rich metadata that promotes the discovery and use of digital collections and enhances their availability.
  • Be accessible by all CARLI member institutions via CARLI Digital Collections.
  • Conform to accessibility standards developed as part of the Web Access Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Collections may contain born digital items or digital surrogates. Collections may include a variety of media, including but not limited to: manuscripts, diaries, letters, books, photographs, postcards, art reproductions, illustrations, sound, video, and representations of 3-D items.

For ideas on what collection topics are currently popular with CARLI Digital Collections users, examples can be found on the CARLI website:

Responsibilities of Contributing Institutions

Copyright and intellectual property guidelines

Intellectual property rights must be managed in accordance with applicable laws, and all materials made openly available must be in the public domain or cleared for public distribution. It is the responsibility of each institution to seek and maintain documentation of the copyright status of their digital collection(s). CARLI does not hold the copyright to the digital collections within CARLI Digital Collections, nor their contents, unless stated.


It is the responsibility of each institution to ensure that material included in their digital collections does not contain any of the following types of information: Social Security Numbers (or other national identification numbers), financial account numbers, credit card or debit card numbers. Liability associated with the loss, theft, disclosure or misuse of such information rests solely with the owning institution.


The preservation of digital objects is the responsibility of the owning institution. Storage space is provided for access files and metadata within CARLI's digital asset management system (DAMS) and backups of these assets are performed. Institutions submitting collections are responsible for storing and preserving master files through their own systems. Institutions are also responsible for ensuring that the file formats of access files in CARLI Digital Collections are compatible with its software and Internet browsers.

Standards and Quality Control

All CARLI digital collections should be created, organized, digitized, and maintained following best practices recommended and/or adopted by CARLI. Institutions submitting content to the CARLI Digital Collections website are responsible for the technical quality of the digital objects and the accuracy of the metadata. Best practices documents can be found on the CARLI website:

Content Selection

The appropriateness of an item or items to be included in CARLI Digital Collections should be determined prior to the start of collection creation. Considerations for inclusion should include:

  • Extent to which the digital version can represent the original; if the full content is not to be included, the usefulness of the digital object must be carefully considered.
  • How the digitized materials will display using current, readily available technologies, such as phones and tablets.
  • The effect of file size and network capacity on the speed of digital content delivery.
  • The availability of institutional resources to support processing, selection, organization, and scanning.
  • The availability of institutional resources to create rich descriptive metadata for each item in the collection.
  • Oversized, poorly legible, or requiring extraordinarily high resolution or true color representation may be unsuitable items for inclusion.
  • An evaluation of physical condition, as scanning may damage materials that are delicate or in poor condition.


CARLI endorses compliance with accessibility standards developed as part of the Web Access Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium ( It is the responsibility of each contributing institution to conform to these standards. CARLI does not guarantee that all collections or sites linked to within the collections will comply with these compatibility standards.

Removal Policy

Collections or items within a collection may be removed from the CARLI Digital Collections if one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • Proven violation of copyright laws, including violations of restrictions placed by a content donor or owner.
  • Metadata or collection description(s) includes substantial inaccurate information and is not corrected by the institution within 60 days of notification.
  • Linked content is no longer available, or is not consistently available and reliable.
  • Collection or items within a collection does not conform to standards and/or CARLI best practices for digitization and metadata.
  • Collection has changed such that it no longer adheres to the mission, guiding principles, collection development criteria, or standards stated in this policy.

The CARLI Board or its designated committee/agent will have the final decision on removal of collections or items within a collection. The originating institution will be notified in writing of the decision. Upon request, item;and/or collection metadata can be provided by CARLI staff to the institution prior to removal.

Policy Review

The CARLI Board or its designated committee/agent will review this policy annually and revise when necessary in order to incorporate changes in licensing, technology, or statewide collection goals.

Revised version of policy approved by the CARLI Board on September 12, 2014. Additional revisions done November 10, 2017, and March 25, 2019.