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Personal Digital Collections

A recent article in BusinessWeek ( profiled a Japanese company that provides homes with some needed extra space. A recent startup, Bookscan, offers scanning of personal book collections in part for customers to more efficiently use their domestic space. As many know, Japanese homes are generally much smaller than North American homes and one can imagine that the elimination or reduction of a bookshelf can be a very valuable expansion of living area.

Booksaver_angle_med In addition to services such as those offered by  Bookscan, major manufacturers have begun introducing increasingly sophisticated consumer scanning technologies (an example from ION Audio pictured here). There have even been attempts with personal cameras and other equipment ( to scan entire volumes for personal use.

One thing is clear: it has never been easier to create personal digital collections than it is now and that's one reason a Digital Library group was recently formed at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. In addition to licensing content from commercial publishers and scanning our own books, the SIL is beginning to handle a wide variety of digital materials created outside the professional publishing world. However, the acquisition and management of this type of content in library collections demands forethought and the development of a coherent approach.

Most data management and digital library experts agree that early management intervention of digital material (preferably at the time of creation) is the best way to ensure that the content will survive and be usable even in the short term. And the SIL's new Digital Library group aims to ensure that electronic materials are easily discovered, usable and integrated into the larger Smithsonian digital world. The group plans to meet regularly, relying on the perspective of all SIL staff to recommend work flow and practices for specific situations and material-types. All staff are welcome to attend DL meetings and either contribute their own experience or learn more about the collection and management of this material at SIL.






  1. Stefanie

    I think this would be a great idea for future use. Many people might have documents such as old birth certificates, marriage licenses, or old family photos that they do not want to get damaged. The personal digital scanner would be a great tool for them to use.

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