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The digitisation of historical manuscripts and prints requires many individual steps: selection and rights checking, conservational preparation of the originals, scanning, quality assurance, metadata creation and enrichment, online storage and digital long-term archiving. These individual steps are organised in our standardised, collaborative workflow.

The selection of works to be digitised is based on various criteria.

  • Expansion of the source base for research projects
  • High scientific interest or great cultural significance
  • Digitisation suggestion by patrons
  • Frequent use, preservation
  • High aesthetic or material value

After selection and before scanning, various checks are carried out and the originals are prepared.

  • Is the work still protected by copyright?
  • Does another library already provide a digitised copy in good quality and with persistent addressing? To avoid digital duplicates, in this case the work from the library's own collection is not digitised and the "third-party digitised copy" is linked in the library catalogue.
  • Can the work be digitised without causing damage to the original?
  • Are restoration measures necessary before digitisation?

If the check is positive, the appropriate digitisation parameters are determined (scanning process, resolution, colour or greyscale scan).

The work is now digitised in accordance with DFG German Research Foundation digitisation practice rules (DFG-Praxisregeln Digitalisierung) and corresponding digitisation parameters.

  • Resolution at least 300 PPI in uncompressed TIFF format (master TIFF)
  • Quality control during the scanning process (colour management, image sharpness, completeness, TIFF header)
  • If necessary, pre-structuring of the digitised files
  • Completion of the scanning process and automatic import of the image files into the Visual Library (VL) working environment
  • Linking of image files and bibliographic data (title, author, publisher, etc.) via an unique identifier
  • Persistent addressing of the digital work by assigning a URN number from the German National Library (DNB) and automatic creation of IIIF manifests by VL


After scanning, quality assurance (image and data) and metadata enrichment takes place.

  • Checking the sharpness, dimensions and appearance of the image files
  • Checking and, if necessary, correction of the bibliographic data
  • Assigning page numbers to image files (pagination) and checking for completeness
  • Creating a digital table of contents by manually capturing structural data
  • OCR processing where possible
  • Creation of PDF files and categorisation in the subject classification system and collection structure of ULB’s Digital Collections

The resulting digital work is published in ULB’s Digital Collections and manually linked to Wikipedia.
To ensure permanent discoverability (persistent addressing), the URN (Uniform Resource Name) is automatically transferred to the German National Library (DNB).


The image files and metadata are stored locally at HHU's Centre for Information and Media Technology (ZIM).
For long-term archiving, the digital works are successively transferred to the Digital Archive NRW (Digitales Archiv NRW - DA.NRW).


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