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Mission statement

The USU Libraries support the teaching, learning, and research activities of Utah State University, a land grant university, and serves the public through learning, discovery, and engagement. The Digital Initiatives Department creates, organizes, preserves, and maintains open access to digital resources that reflect USU's curriculum, research, unique resources, and achievements. Individually and in collaboration with other educational and cultural heritage institutions, this unit of the USU Libraries contributes to the pool of scholarly digital resources accessible to users worldwide.

What we do, in a nutshell

The USU Digital Initiatives Unit digitizes materials and manages born-digital content that is owned by Utah State University Libraries. The Unit coordinates the hosting of this content on the web as well as oversees the Institutional Repository. We select materials based upon their uniqueness, research merit, potential for curriculum support, and appeal. Copyright restrictions, condition of the materials, and extent of data available to describe the materials factor into material selection also. Typically collections spotlight historical photographs, journals, old newspapers, letters, and other interesting items from our Special Collections and Archives. By making these one-of-a-kind or rare digital materials available, the Digital Initiatives Unit opens them up to users everywhere, enhances access by subject and keyword searching, and reduces wear and tear on the originals.


Digital Library staff draw on expertise from all over the Library in creating digital history collections. Special Collections and Archives staff work with us in developing project ideas, co-writing and administering grants, selecting materials for digitization, and creating web pages. The Library's Systems Department helps with web page construction and provides technical support of our CONTENTdm software and our Linux server. Cataloging staff create metadata for our digital objects and every project includes a cataloger on the project team.  As needed, graphical support for landing pages, webpages, and publicity materials is provided by the Library's graphics designer.


Mountain West Digital Library

Utah State University's Digital Library also functions as a regional hub for the Mountain West Digital Library (, a collaborative project digitizing and/or hosting digital collections from regional cultural heritage institutions (libraries, museums, historical societies, etc.). We are one of MWDL’s regional hosting institutions, each running a CONTENTdm server supporting its own digital collections and supporting partner institutions by providing scanning and hosting services. Interested in partnering with us?  Contact Becky Thoms at

Collection development policy

The USU Digital Library digitizes, presents, and archives materials according to the following content and selection criteria:

  • Content criteria:
    Material should fall under one or more of the following content categories to be considered for inclusion in the digital library.
    • USU Library or campus analog resources that are unique, rare, and/or of special regional interest and are deemed to warrant conversion to digital format
    • Materials that support USU teaching or research
    • Materials that support desirable collaborative projects such as the Mountain West Digital Library, GWLA Western Waters Project, etc.
  • Selection criteria:
    Once material is judged to meet content criteria, it is further evaluated to determine its need, suitability, and priority for digitization.  Considerations include:
    • Is material already digitally available via other collections or services?
    • Is material free of any copyright or use restrictions; if not, can clearance from such be easily obtained?
    • Does material already have sufficient information for metadata creation?
    • Does material have a satisfactory record of provenance and/or authenticity?
    • Does material lend itself to digitization without damaging the original?
    • Would digitization of material meet a desired preservation outcome, such as:
    • reduce handling of fragile materials
    • protect from theft, misuse, or mutilation
    • be digitized as part of an overall conservation plan
    • Would digitization provide added value over the original format, such as:
    • enhance access by addition of hyperlinks, finding aids
    • enhance searching and optimize use via database manipulation, search engines, image or data comparisons, etc.
    • Would digitization generate institutional prestige?
    • Would digitization create opportunities for a revenue stream?
    • Would this material complement or complete existing digital resources, either  inside or outside USU?
    • Would digitization create opportunities for desired collaboration?
    • Would digitization eliminate significant limitations in access or use of the originals?
    • Would a funding agency be likely to support digitization of this material?
    • Does USU Digital Library have sufficient resources (financial, staff, hardware, software, time) to digitize in an efficacious and timely manner?
    • Would digitization create desirable opportunities for staff training and development?
Content in this section updated on 1/8/2013

Want to help?

  • Tell us how we can improve our digital collections:
    • Correct or improve image descriptions
    • Identify people in pictures
    • Fill out any surveys attached to a collection
    • Give us feedback
    • Email with your comments
  • Volunteer to read and correct our transcribed historical newspapers.
    • An automated program transcribed our old Logan newspapers using optical character recognition (OCR). But, quite frankly, it did a lousy job because the print in these very old newspapers is difficult to read. People can actually perform better than the computer in this situation because they can use context and common sense to figure out illegible or missing words. If you would like to help us decipher the old text and send in corrected transcripts, contact You’ll absorb some history along the way and we will list you as a transcriber in the record.
  • Contribute
    • Contribute to the Digital Library by financially sponsoring creation of an entire collection or sending in smaller amounts to help us digitize and host more materials. Contact or write to Becky Thoms, Utah State University, Digital Library, UMC 3000, Logan, UT 84321-3000.
Content in this section updated 1/8/2013

Our Digital Toolbox

  • Standards we adhere to:
  • Sofware and Hardware:
    • Software
      • CONTENTdm - Digital Media Management Software for hosting and displaying digital files and associated metadata via the web
      • ">Adobe Photoshop CS4 for cropping, correcting, and manipulating image
      • Name Mangler for file naming
      • FileMaker Pro for tracking work
      • Adobe Acrobat Professional for creating and OCRing PDF documents
      • MS Excel for creating metadata spreadsheets for batching loading metadata
    • Workstations
      • MAC computers
    • Scanners
      • Epson Expression 10000XL Graphic Arts flatbed scanners, with transparency lids and automatic document feeders as needed
    • Digital Darkroom
      With the help of a $25,000 grant from the George and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, we equipped and set up a digital darkroom for shooting large format and fragile materials not suited for flatbed scanning.
      • Equipment includes:
        • Hasselblad H3D digital camera
        • Super Repro Copy Stand 27.5 x 35.5 inches
        • Foam book cradles from UFP Technologies
        • Lowell e-studio4 fluorescent light (stand mount)
        • Osram Studioline 55w dalight lamps
        • Lowell barndoors for e-studio4
        • Matthews C+ Stand 40" DR TB Black
        • iMAC computer workstation

Digital Library File Storage & Hardware:

  • Main file storage is provided by campus central storage (SANS), backed by two off-site locations on disk and tape
    • Digital Scan Server (Virtual Server):
      • Operating Systems: RedHat v5
      • Disk Space: approx. 7.8 Terabytes
      • Memory: 2 Gig Memory
  • Access files and digital asset management software (CONTENTdm) is housed on Library server
    • Digital Server (Sun X4150):
      • Operating Systems: RedHat v5
      • Processor: 1 Quad-Core Intel Xeon L5420 (2x6MB L2, 2.5 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB, 50W)
      • Memory: 48GB PC2-5300 667 MHz ECC Fully Buffered DDR2 DIMMs
      • Disk Space: 6 73Gb 100rpm SAS Harddrives
      • Exabyte 2-LTO Tape Library
  • Dark Archive housed on a separate Library server:
    • Drobo Server (Apple Xserver):
      • Operating System: Mac OS X Server v10.6
      • Processor: One 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 series processor
      • Memory: 3GB (three 1GB) 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM
      • Disk Space: 160GB 7200-rpm SATA Apple Drive Module with 8MB of cache
      • Drobo Disk Library (16 Terabytes Disk Space)
  • Network:
    • Gigabit backbone, with a minimum of a T3 connection to the internet.
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