University of Illinois Library

1408 W. Gregory Drive


Urbana, IL, 61801



The Digital Imaging Initiative was established in 1994 with the initial mission of examining the potential of providing digital access to the University of Illinois Library´s collections, and to perform research with collections and users to determine the best methods for doing so. The unit, now known at the Digital Services and Development Unit, became a more formal part of the University Library´s structure in 2005. Library users are demanding greater access to digital information to support instruction and research.

The fundamental mission of the unit remains providing digital access to University Library collections and enabling the preservation, access to, and promotion of collections. The Library is at a juncture where the central role for digital library development and digitization of collections becomes the development of more integrated services rather than isolated projects.

The overall goals of the Digital Services and Development Unit (DSD) continue to be:

The goals of the program are to be met by the following objectives:

With the unit´s recent move to the Main Library, the Digital Services and Development Unit hopes to accommodate the University Library's goal of accessibility by scaling up its digitization and access program over the next several years. To accomplish this goal we plan to digitize unique collections and build model access and delivery systems. The DSD has completed the exploratory analysis of many collections by digitizing samples, and has developed innovative approaches to making materials accessible through the Internet. Depending on the project, the technical staff of DSD will develop a new system to accommodate the materials or, in most cases, we will develop a system using an existing software packages.

Systems currently supported by DSD include CONTENTdm and DLXS-XPAT. CONTENTdm is a system that is most commonly used for image collections. It enables users to search descriptive metadata in one or more collections for particular images. Projects where we are using CONTENTdm include the German Emblem Books and Historical Maps. Results are displayed with thumbnail images. Using our RealMedia Server enables us to also include audio and video files in databases if necessary. (See /projects/index.htm for other collections). The XPAT system is mostly commonly used for textual databases such as the Marquez Bibliography. Again, users can search among collections for particular items, and in some cases, even search using Cyrillic font.

Projects on which we have worked during the past few years include:

  • Historical Maps;
  • Topographic Maps of Illinois;
  • Aerial Photographs;
  • Aerial Photograph Indexes;
  • Teaching with Digital Content;
  • Digital Cultural Heritage Community;
  • ALA Archives Digital Collections;
  • Global Cultural Memory Project;
  • Russian Publics Images Project;
  • Lorado Taft Photographs and Finding Aid;
  • Motley Collection of Theater and Costume Design;
  • Kolb Proust Archive for Research;
  • Biology Field Guides;
  • OpenEmblem Portal;
  • Early 19th Century Russian Readership and Culture;
  • German Emblem Books
  • Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel Garcia Marquez;
  • CIC-OAI Metadata Harvester;
  • IMLS Digital Collections and Content;
  • Collins Collection of Irish Political Cartoons;
  • Krannert Art Museum Japanese Theater Prints of the Utagawa School
  • Engineering Research documents;
  • Carl Sandburg Collection;
  • Amos Kennedy Collection;
  • School of Social Work 60 Years of Research Collection;
  • Winters Czech and Slovak Poster Collection;
  • French World War I Poster Collection;
  • Board of Trustees collections;