Vassar College Digital Library


The Vassar College Libraries provide guidance and make available the framework to preserve and disseminate, in digital format, selected resources held by the Libraries or created by members of the Vassar community. Furthermore, the Libraries create and enrich digital collections to be used for instruction.



The mission of the digital initiatives at Vassar College is to support the creation, dissemination, and preservation of selected digital content resources within the Libraries and the College. In establishing a collection development policy for digital collections to be included in the Digital Library we establish criteria consistent with this mission and its goals.


Our goals in collecting include:

  • Providing access to high-quality digital content generated by the Libraries for research and study, as open as possible.
  • Supporting the teaching, learning, and research needs of the College.
  • Preserving at-risk or fragile physical collections through digitization, or at-risk born-digital collections through reformatting.
  • Preserving the scholarship of the Vassar community.
  • Preserving born-digital content of historical value to Vassar College.
  • Exposing hidden, less-used physical collections through access to digital surrogates.
  • Fostering experimental, cutting-edge, and innovative projects through technology.


Subjects and Collecting Level



We adhere to the general parameters and core strengths established in Vassar College Libraries’ Collection Development Policy, noting particularly that a strong liberal arts education requires complementary digital collections that are exceptionally deep and expansive in order to provide a foundation for the instructional activities of the college.  Subjects that are in support of the curriculum have higher priority but no subject is specifically excluded.


Collecting level

Generally, we seek to collect and digitize materials that are at the Advanced Study Level as defined in the ALA Guidelines for the Formulation of Collection Development Policies.


Formats Collected

Each repository in the digital library requires specific formats for access. Although most formats are accepted, formats that are not compatible with the Islandora platform will be preserved and derivatives made for access.


Rights and Restrictions

These materials are made available for research and educational purposes. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of materials in the Vassar College Digital Library. We strive to make as many collections openly available as possible, however, at times it may be necessary to impose access restrictions on collections that carry limitations based on copyright, privacy, or similar issues..


Selection and Deselection

Selection and deselection of digital content will be determined on a case by case basis in consultation with stakeholders. We make a commitment to retaining as much content as possible in its original digital format, although some reformatting may take place by necessity.  See “Selection Factors” and “Deselection Factors.”

Selection Factors

  • Copyright status
    • Our preference is to collect or digitize materials in which Vassar owns the rights or the items are no longer held in copyright.
  • Significance of the materials
    • Inherently subjective, we still must ask ourselves about the importance of the materials that will be collected.
      • Do the materials meet all goals of collecting?
      • Would experts agree as to the materials’ significance?
      • Do the materials enhance intellectual value by contributing to the scholarly record or curriculum?
  • Current and potential users
    • Including preservation impact
    • Value-added possibilities of digital access
      • For example, a text corpus may benefit significantly from visualization, full text searching, or other critical functions
  • Collections that contain subjects of supreme strength at Vassar (core collections)
  • Collections about Vassar / Vassariana
  • Rare and unique items held by Vassar College and its Libraries
  • Provides opportunity to build upon other digital materials in the scholarly record
  • Collections that have funding or offer potential to attract development opportunities
  • Significant demand by Vassar constituents
  • Exit strategy possible

N.B.: All potential digital collections are subject to funding available to properly catalog, preserve, and house the materials.

Deselection Factors

Note that we define “deselection” to mean removal of access copies of the collection. Preservation copies adhere to the level of commitment we make as an institution when we accept a digital project.

  • Items become too costly to maintain over time because significant purchase of equipment is needed to access or reformat them.
  • Access copies receive little use (preservation copies will still be retained).
  • Security flaws are discovered in items after a breach has occurred.


Digitization Standards

  • Metadata standard: MODS (Metadata Object Description Standard) for most works.  In some cases, VRACore or Qualified Dublin Core (QDC) may be necessary to better describe an object.  We seek to preserve as much of the metadata as possible — with a goal of all metadata preserved — should the need to arise to convert to QDC (a “lossless” metadata crosswalk process).
  • Imaging standards:
    • Storage: TIFF
    • Access / derivatives: JPG and JP2
  • Audio and video standards
    • Storage: WAV & MOV
    • Access / derivatives: MP3 & MP4
  • Access standards
    • Whenever possible, access is available to the widest possible audience.
    • Access level will be determined on a case by case basis and fall into one of three access levels: Open, Vassar Only (SSO), or Archive Only. 
    • Select digital collections may be contributed to other external web resources (HRVH, LC, etc.).