Reformatting (Digital, Microfilm, Paper)

Various forms of collections reformatting are facilitated by Preservation & Conservation including digitization, microfilming, and creation of paper replacement copies.


Digitization projects at the UI Libraries are made possible by coordinated efforts among several departments including, but not limited to, Cataloging & Metadata, Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio, Library IT, and Preservation & Conservation. All digitization projects proposed by any staff member at the UI Libraries undergo a planning and evaluation process. This process assists in prioritizing the project and aligning resources to complete the project. The following principles, evaluation criteria, and the current UI Libraries Strategic Plan guide the planning and evaluation process.

Guiding Principles:

  • Digitization projects will be coordinated with physical preservation activities.
  • Digitization projects will include plans for metadata and digital preservation.
  • Digitization projects will create or broaden access to compelling resources for research, instruction, scholarship, and learning.
  • Digitization projects will result in content that is available free of access restrictions and fees for use within the bounds of known legal and ethical restrictions.
  • Digitization projects will avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Intellectual control (current arrangement and description, existing catalog records, other sources of metadata)
  • Value and significance
  • Frequency of use
  • Physical condition
  • Inherent vice (due to physical characteristics and/or risk of obsolescence of format, playback equipment, etc.)
  • Holding institution with prioritization in this order: collections held by the
    • UI Libraries,
    • UI campus partners,
    • State of Iowa partners,
    • Other collaborative partners.
  • Alignment with the mission and strategic goals of UI Libraries and UI in general

Digitization projects often begin with an idea at the unit level with a project proposer. Initial information is gathered through the Digitization Project Questionnaire. The project proposer will work with the Digital Processing Coordinator Librarian to gather the project details and guide the project through the evaluation process.


The Preservation department prepares a small number of serial publications for microfilming, with vendored camera work completed to RLG standards since 1991. These serials are printed on poor quality paper, which does not bind or age well. Copyright restrictions are observed by withdrawing the paper copy after the microfilm replacement is received, unless the copyright is held by the University of Iowa.

Microfilm masters are also held for several collective brittle books microfilming projects, completed to RLG standards. Also, from 1950-1991, the University of Iowa Microfilm Service created master reels for serials and monographs that are useful, but do not meet RLG standards. Monographs produced by the Service are complete and legible, and serial holdings record any gaps in the serial run.

Microfilm masters are housed in the PMC, and will have a PMC listing noted in the catalog record. The Libraries will provide replacement microfilm to other institutions at the cost of duplication, subject to copyright restrictions. Contact the Preservation Librarian or Reformatting Assistant for more information.

Paper to paper

The Preservation department is able to provide paper to paper replacement copies of deteriorating material that are not appropriate for digitization, such as items which are still in copyright or items for which a physical manifestation is needed (for example, musical scores.) Contact the Reformatting Assistant for more information.