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We recommend that collection managers consult with staff from Digital Collections Services (DCS) prior to scanning (email Kara Alexander, to ensure conformance with ICO before beginning digitization.


Table of Contents

Archival File Guidelines

Choosing some Select specifications required for each collection will be determined by the content of the collection, others are universal across all ICO collections.

All scanned images should be saved as uncompressed TIFF files. Where color content does not exist or is not deemed significant, produce eight-bit grayscale TIFF files (for example, text-only materials: books, newspapers, some manuscripts). Where color information exists, or where the artifactual value is extremely important, produce twenty-four bit color TIFF image files (Rare books, maps, photographs, and some manuscripts are within this category.)


When digitizing the items, care should be taken that no clipping (= loss of details) in either the highlights or the shadows occurs, while matching as close as possible the color/tonal range of the original items.

A minimum resolution of 400 ppi is considered standard practice with 300 ppi generally only used for large format materials where lower resolution is mandated by device limitations and stitching is not practical or desirable. For Rare Book and other special materials the standard is a minimum of 400 ppi and may be higher as planned project outcomes requiredependent on the source material being digitized. Based on the original size of the materials, a minimum 4000 pixel length on the longest side is desired for the final digitized file (if the hardware is capable of capturing the detail optically).


ICO is able to take born-digital images.  We tend to evaluate those on a case-by-case basis, but in general, we are able to accommodate digital images that are captured in an uncompressed TIFF format with a minimum capture resolution of 3,000-5,000 pixels on a side.  If the camera can only capture images in JPEG, we recommend JPEG capture with as little compression as possible.    Files captured in RAW will also need to be converted to uncompressed TIFF before upload. The camera menu will provide options for pixel dimensions and size of file (e.g., low, medium, high, maximum or original size).  Every camera model is different so consulting the specifications section of the camera manual is the best place to start.


There are a couple of ways of uploading content to ICO collections using the ICO Cataloger/Photocat tool.  We usually recommend that collection managers or their designated catalogers upload records individually in the corresponding ICO collection as a way to ensure quality control. First, create a record in ICO Cataloger/Photocat, the upload an image (or multiple images, if you have admin rights) to that record. The system will automatically name the files for you as they are ingested, so you don't need to change file names locally before attaching them to a record.  Collection managers will receive reports from the ICO system for both successful and failed file uploads. 


Before uploading images to ICO, you should conduct a visual inspection of your images. Make sure you the images: 

  • look like a reasonable surrogate of the original item
  • are in the correct orientation/neat/straight/in focus/correct color or greyscale for the item
  • named correctly and consistently, according to your local file naming conventions