FADGI Publishes Revision to Influential Still Image Digitization Guidelines

Today’s guest post is from Hana Beckerle, a 2021/22 Librarian-in-Residence at the Library of Congress.


The Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) Still Image Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of the 3rd edition of the Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials. The newly-revised Guidelines are in draft form and are open for public review and comment from the digital preservation community. The public comment period will close on Friday, August 5, 2022, and the final approved version will be published in early FY23.

This latest version expands upon and revises content included in previous versions of the Guidelines published in 2010 and 2016. The Guidelines include information on the four components of a FADGI-conforming imaging program: technical imaging parameters, best practices, digital image conformance evaluation, and professional staff.

Also included are specifications for the FADGI star rating system (see below), which are criteria for evaluating digital image quality for a variety of original object types, including rare and special materials, general collections, transmissive materials such as film and x-ray, manuscripts, artwork, and more. This update includes the new Modern Textual Records category, which details digitization guidance and evaluation criteria for digital images of modern documents. The criteria values for all other material categories have been updated as well.

 “One of the tables from the revised Guidelines that lay out digitization best practices and metrics for evaluating image quality for different content types.”

One of the tables from the revised Guidelines that lay out digitization best practices and metrics for evaluating image quality for different content types.

Other additions include the FADGI Still Image Working Group’s Code of Ethics, a document-specific glossary that compliments the online FADGI glossary, information on latest imaging technologies and best practices, updates to example digitization project workflows, additional language on color management, and more.

This Ethiopic scroll amulet was imaged in the Library’s Digital Scan Center (LM-556), which conforms to FADGI guidelines and criteria for digitizing cultural heritage materials, including for rare and special collections items such as this one.”

This Ethiopic scroll amulet was imaged in the Library’s Digital Scan Center (LM-556), which conforms to FADGI guidelines and criteria for digitizing cultural heritage materials, including for rare and special collections items such as this one.

The Guidelines are free for any digitization professional or cultural heritage organization to reference, and FADGI has developed free software tools to support their implementation. While FADGI began as a US Federal agencies initiative, the Guidelines are influential around the world of cultural heritage digitization. The Guidelines have hundreds of downloads each month from site visitors around the globe, and many organizations reference the Guidelines and the star rating criteria for their digitization projects and programs. The Library’s Digital Scan Center is FADGI-conforming (see image on right) and the Library’s digitization programs follow FADGI guidance for all still image and audio-visual content types.

The revision team includes Tom Rieger, Manager of the Digitization Services Section (DSS), and Kristin A. Phelps, Digitization Manager for the Office of Copyright Records, as well as subject matter experts Michael Horsley of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Don Williams and Roger Triplett of Image Science Associates. Tanya Brown, Sarah Mitrani, Rachel Frederick, and Hana Beckerle of DSS also served as reviewers and editors.

Please submit comments or questions on the revised Guidelines at [email protected], or by using the comment form on the FADGI website.

One Comment

  1. Carl Fleischhauer
    June 9, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Terrific news — great to have a refreshed version that covers an expanded range of original source collections! As readers will know, the heritage of this guideline reaches back to 2004 (!) and this update shows that its value carries on 18 years later. Bravo and special thanks to Tom, Kristin, Michael, Don, and Roger. Come to think of it, Don himself has been part of this effort for a very big chunk of those 18 years.

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