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Penn State University Libraries
assortment of digital products

Digital Conversion

Contact:  Sue Kellerman, Diane Sawyer, or Ann Passmore
W401 Pattee Library
(814) 863-4696

About the Unit

The Digital Conversion unit utilizes reformatting techniques such as digitization and microfilming to preserve library materials of all types. We are involved in most digitization projects at the Penn State Libraries, providing our expertise in any and all stages of the digital collections creation process including coordinating with vendors, microfilming, digitization, metadata creation, and content loading. We work closely with library faculty and staff to assist them with their projects, as well as Collections Care, I-Tech, and Digital Library Technologies.

In addition to digital projects, we apply digital tools toward traditional preservation, collaborating with the Bindery to recreate pages for damaged books and offering print reproduction of brittle books, out-of-print titles, and whole periodical issues, and reproductions of paper-based and photographic materials, along with print production of signage and exhibit materials for library functions. Preservation microfilming services for projects include all pre- and post-filming activities including retrieval, searching, physical preparation and collation, reel programming, target preparation, and quality control inspection.

The unit also provides consultation to library faculty and staff on digitization including preparation, scanning, and options for storage and display. Staff also periodically offer training in image capture following best practices for digital projects, and serve as liaisons to Digital Library Technologies and I-Tech to determine and secure software and network needs for digital projects.

About our Work

Digital Conversion uses archival standards and best practices when creating our digital images and collections, to ensure that the quality and nature of our images will endure the test of time. As software changes, file formats that were once popular can fall out of wide use, making files saved in those formats difficult to recover and resulting in potential data loss. Likewise, as the quality of technology advances, standards that were once considered “high quality” can become obsolete, just as there was a time when black and white film was the foremost technology in traditional photography.

Our scanning standards include scanning at a high, 600 dpi resolution (meaning you can zoom in to see very fine detail without blurriness or pixilation), and saving files in tiff format. TIFF (short for Tagged Image File Format) was invented as an industry-accepted image file format that can preserve high quality images while being compatible with all major image editing and viewing platforms.

To learn more about our process, standards, and best practices, visit our Tutorials & Instruction page, where you can find informative flyers, presentations, and tutorials.

For additional resources beyond those we host, view our list of additional online resources.


Services offered by Digital Conversion

Our services to the libraries include replacement pages, book scanning, and reproductions of delicate or valuable library materials. We also offer preservation microfilming services for library collections, scan small-volume collections, print for exhibits and signage, and do editing and processing for images, audio and video files. We offer training to other library departments and offer consultation to organizations seeking to establish their own digital projects. Read about our services in more detail on our Services page.

Digital Conversion

Our tools include a wide array of scanning and printing equipment to produce our work, as well as several software packages. These range from publicly available applications such as Adobe Photoshop to high-end specialty equipment like our 256 megapixel Better Light digital camera. You can read about them in more detail on the Digital Production Equipment page.


Every year, Digital Conversion takes on several projects to create new digital collections for the library. This timeline lists all the collections we have produced since 1992. You can view, browse, and search all our digital collections on the Penn State Libraries’ Digital Collections page. The department also represents Penn State in a number of nationwide digital initiatives

If you are interested in submitting a project for consideration, please review the DCRT Digital Toolkit, an overview of the submission process.