Related product Digital Collections (CONTENTdm)

Digital Collection Development Policy


This policy addresses those digital collections that are stored on resources centrally managed by CARLI. Governing member libraries are encouraged to plan, develop, and contribute digital collections so that access to the state's resources can be made widely available. Digital collections shall be created and maintained as shared resources for CARLI institutions and for others accessing them from any place in the world.

Access to these CARLI digital collections is made available free of charge through a website designed and maintained by CARLI staff with input from CARLI member contributors. Separate digital collections stored on the CARLI server may include:

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

Mission and Guiding Principles

The CARLI Digital Collections are created and maintained in keeping with the mission statement of the organization itself:

“The Consortium leads Illinois academic libraries to create and sustain a rich, supportive, and diverse knowledge environment that furthers teaching, learning and research through the sharing of collections, expertise and programs.”

CARLI digital collections are to provide resources that may be of research, teaching, and learning value to other member institutions. The digital collections are not to serve as: institutional archives; digital learning object repositories; substitutes for permanent preservation; or to only support individual offices or departments within an institution. Collections completely restricted to only one campus or campus unit are not permitted.

Collection Development Criteria

Content included in CARLI digital collections 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.
  • As much as possible, fall under accessibility guidelines, such as: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Collections may contain born digital items or digital surrogates. Collections may include a variety of media, including but not limited to: text and manuscript documents, 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 any necessary restrictions to access must be implemented through current institutionally-supported mechanisms. 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 ownership and digitization rights for their digital collection(s). Ownership of the digital content remains with the institution; CARLI does not claim ownership of the content in the digital collections.


The preservation of both the original analog materials and the digital master is the responsibility of the owning institution. CARLI provides storage space for the access images and metadata within CARLI's digital asset management system (DAMS) and provides backups of the images and metadata within the DAMS. Institutions submitting collections are responsible for storing digital master images and all related backups. Institutions are also responsible for maintaining the file types of items within collections to be compatible with current software.

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 are responsible for technical quality of the digital objects and accuracy of the metadata. Best practices document can be found on the CARLI website:

Additional considerations

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.
  • Whether the digitized materials will display well using current, readily available technologies.
  • File size and network capacity to deliver the digital content to the user with reasonable speed.
  • Resources available at the institution to support collection organization, scanning, and processing to support and maintain the digital collection.
  • Resources available at the institution to catalog and provide metadata relating to document identification, provenance, full item description, and technical capture information for each item in the collection.
  • Original items that are oversized, poorly legible, require extraordinarily high resolution or true color representation may be unsuitable for inclusion.


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 a collection description provides 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. Metadata from the item and/or collection can be provided 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.