The UCSB Davidson Library is digitizing materials from its Special Collections department to maintain the accessibility and quality of its 500,000 volumes, photographs and early sound recordings.

The compilation of specialized material is available in an online database available through the library’s website and includes some 3,000 historic and artistic photographs, poster prints, music scores, audio recordings, videos and picture discs from various historical periods. In addition to providing users constant access to some of the library’s rarest material, the database allows users to geo-locate items using satellite imagery.

According to UCSB Metadata Librarian Lisa Koch, the project will improve access to materials unavailable for checkout.

“The goal of the digital collections is to reveal the library’s hidden collections and highlight its unique holdings and make them accessible worldwide,” Koch said. “It is a resource for people who want to explore the materials but can’t come to the building. Scholars and users can view items at home and teachers can bring the archives into their classrooms.”

Koch said people can recommend items to be digitized through an analytical process that measures the viability of each suggested project.

“When a librarian, faculty member, community member or other party has an idea to digitize certain material, the idea goes to an internal library committee,” Koch said. “The committee considers many factors, including public interest in the material, copyright concerns, equipment and staff needed to digitize the materials [as well as] the size of the collection.”

Koch and several staff members are overseeing the digitization process including the copy and transfer of items. The team incorporates a range of specialists to preserve the accuracy and accessibility of the information.

“There are many people involved in the digitization process,” Koch said. “I work as part of a team consisting of curators, librarians, digitization lab staff and programmers to bring digital collections to the public. I consider how best to describe items and work with other library staff to ensure all the items in the digital collection are well-described and easy for users to find.”

Although the library will not digitize the entire Special Collections section due to copyright laws and financial and time constraints, Koch said the library plans to electronically process information from other departments.

“In the future, digital collections will include materials from not only Special Collections; [it will] also include government documents, the Arts library, the Map & Imagery lab and other unique library holdings,” Koch said.

According to Digitization Center manager Tom Moon, the library has already preserved several rare historical maps previously unavailable in the department.

“We’re working with the U.S. [Geological] survey, scanning approximately 10,000 historical topographic maps of California,” Moon said. “We’re doing a lot of preservation scanning for the map and imagery laboratory. They actually are the first digital collection in the library before Special [Collections].”

The Digital Library is available at