Vassar College Digital Library



Vassar College Libraries are committed to supporting a framework of sustainable access to our digital collections and to participate locally, nationally, and globally with other cultural and professional organizations and institutions in efforts to preserve, augment, and disseminate our collective documentary heritage. We are actively improving existing infrastructure and developing new technologies to collect, manage, preserve, and make available our digital collections. The Vassar College Libraries assume responsibility for the long-term preservation and access of the digital material in our care.

Vassar College Libraries are an active member of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), an international membership organization that supplies advocacy, expertise, and support for the preservation of digital heritage. Involvement in organizations such as NDSA and the Digital Library Federation is a testament to Vassar College Libraries’ commitment to the storage, preservation, and access of digital collections.


The Digital Scholarship and Technology Services (DS&T) department works in collaboration with the Special Collections library to coordinate the receipt and preservation of digital records/files (See Records Management Policy Resources). Additionally, DS&T will assist in the preparation of digital management plans for grant applications. You can find information on getting started with your DMP here:

For each collection of records/files received a unique preservation plan and workflow will be created based on a thorough assessment of the collection. However, typically all available metadata and their associated digital assets will be stored on a Vassar College local digital collection server managed by Computing & Information Services. From here collections will be assessed to identify file formats, duplicates, and personally identifiable information. Any concerns will be addressed with the person who authorized the transfer and/or the Special Collections library. Upon assessment completion the collection will then be bundled in compressed folders and saved on two cloud-based servers, one of which is a dark archive. Ultimately three copies of the data are preserved; each on a local Vassar College server, DropBox, and the AWS dark archive. Transfer of collections to these locations is performed using a variety of preservation software tools that ensure file integrity. Local server files will be validated on a schedule. This will provide a manifest of the files, including their file paths and their checksums, against which a regular comparative analysis can be run. We will monitor file integrity through the generation and validation of checksums, and file attendance through monitoring and reporting on new, missing, moved and renamed files. This will ensure data integrity, unaltered content, and allow for long-term access and, if necessary, migration into access repository platforms. Digital files will be stored in a limited set of known open file formats whenever possible, mitigating the risk that a proprietary file format associated with a specific program will become obsolete and inaccessible in the future.


The Digital Library is built on the open-source platform Islandora. Vassar College Libraries were active members of the Islandora Collaboration Group (ICG), founded in 2012 through 2023. ICG was a consortium of primarily liberal arts colleges collaborating to support and extend the Islandora digital repository through direct development, resource pooling, and advocacy. With the dissolution of ICG, we now participate in the Islandora Foundation LAC-GLAM Interest Group and the Fedora Foundation. 

The Digital Collection includes photographs, diaries, correspondence, oral histories, audio/visual materials and more.

The Institutional Repository, Vassar Scholarship, is also available on the Islandora platform. This resource serves as the Vassar College open access repository and currently includes student thesis, student projects, faculty peer-reviewed articles, and more.

The Herbarium currently holds over 8,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, and algae. 

Additionally, a variety of Vassar College magazines and newspapers are available on a platform provided by Veridian.

Inclusion of collections within any of these access points is decided on a case-by-case basis following 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 in digitization and access, but no subject is specifically excluded.

Nicole H. Scalessa, Head of Digital Scholarship & Technology
Kim Gianfrancesco, Digital Preservation