Digital Library and Digitization

The Digital Library and Digitization Department works closely with the Libaries' Preservation Services, Resource Description, Research Services, and Web Services and IT Support departments to produce content for the Digital LibrarImaging Center Logo Imagey including online exhibitions, image collections, and of course our online books.

The Department manages book digitization for all of the Smithsonian Libraries (locations in Washington, DC, Maryland, New York, and Panama), including the creation of digital surrogates for ingest into the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).  We also work on special digitization projects, such as for archival and manuscript material and, by special arrangement, can digitize paper-based collections such as maps, scrapbooks, posters, and field notebooks held by other parts of the Smithsonian Institution.

We regularly produce high quality digital images for online display as well as for gallery exhibition design and installation, print publications of the Institution, and other publication needs. Our mass-digitization operation is done in partnership with the Internet Archive (IA), using IA equipment and software, and additional reformatting equipment in conjunction with Macaw, software developed in-house for this purpose. The Libraries occasionally contracts with outside vendors for digitization projects, the outputs of which are also processed using Macaw.

For a continually updated list of our most recently produced digital surrogates, see Smithsonian Libraries’ content in IA. These items are regularly ingested into the BHL and our Digital Library.

The Smithsonian Libraries has digitized 36,877 items from its collections, totaling 13,273,079 pages. Our Digital Library hosts 10,237 items (2,821,503 pages) while our contributions to the Biodiversity Heritage Library number 27,399 items (10,792,867 pages). Statistics as of Q2 FY20. Note that the totals will not be accurate due to some duplication between the two collections.

In-House Digitization Locations and Equipment (last updated Q1 FY19)

Imaging Center (Landover, MD)

Co-located with Smithsonian Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab and Research Annex, the Imaging Center (SILIC) is the primary location for digitization of all large-format (folio, map) materials, manuscripts, archival collections, and exceptionally fragile material.

  • P65+ Copystand
    • DT RCam Reprographic Camera with Phase One P65+ digital back
    • 72mm Digital APO lens
    • Motorized column, AIA vacuum/magnetic extension table 
    • Strobe lighting
  • BC100 Book Capture System
    • DT RCam Reprographic Cameras with Phase One P40+ digital backs
    • 72mm Digital APO lenses
    • Angled glass platen with pneumatic lift, adjustable book cradle
    • Continuous LED lighting
  • Software:
    • Capture One
    • Macaw metadata capture and packaging
  • Calibration:
    • Imaging Science Associates Object-Level Target Kit
    • ISA A3 Book Scanner Fixture Target
    • Golden Thread

Digitization Suite (Natural History Building, Washington, DC)

Co-located with Smithsonian Libraries’ Natural and Physical Sciences libraries and the Joseph F Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, the Digitization Suite houses our IA equipment ('the Scribe') and is responsible for the majority of our book digitization throughput, especially for the BHL.

  • Internet Archive Equipment and IA Biblio software
    • Scribe II Book Cradle
      • Cannon EOS 5D Mark III Cameras
      • 100mm macro lenses
      • Angled glass platen with manual counterbalance lift, adjustable book cradle
      • Continuous LED lighting
    • Scribe II Foldout Station
      • Canon 5D Mark II Camera
      • 35mm lens
      • Manual adjust column
      • Strobe lighting

Trade Literature Mezzanine (American History Building, Washington, DC)

Co-located with Smithsonian Libraries’ American History Library and sub-collections, this equipment is used primarily for loose and pamphlet materials, particularly from the Trade Literature collection.

  • DT Atom Table Top Reprographic Camera Station, with motorized column
    • Phase One iXG 50MP Camera system
    • 72mm Digital APO Lens
    • DT Photon LED lighting system
    • Golden Thread calibration
    • Capture One CH edition software
    • Macaw metadata capture and packaging