Digitisation Audit

One of the first Project Deliverables was the Digitisation Audit - a full inventory of all the digitisation activities at the three partner Institutions, including details of what provision each offered for each stage of the digital lifecycle.

You can view a summary of this process here: Digitisation Audit Summary (pdf).

To support the work of the audit we also carried out a survey of digitisation expertise held by library staff across the three institutions. A summary of the survey process is available here: Conducting a Digitisation Expertise Survey (pdf).

This page examines the value of revisiting the inventory one year on.

Although we have referred to the exercise as an audit throughout the project, there is an argument that in fact it doesn’t meet the criteria of an audit – hence the use of the term ‘inventory’ here. An audit is an evaluation rather than just a list – traditionally an audit will state whether or not a given service / department / organisation / approach conforms to established standards, and will pull out the areas where it does not. The inventory undertaken by LIFE-SHARE didn’t quite offer this level of evaluation, although we did highlight areas of weakness and strength in the respective institutions’ digitisation infrastructure, equipment and expertise.

For libraries wishing to self-assess without going into quite as much detail as an audit, it may be worth looking into AIDA, a JISC-funded self-assessment tool relating to digital assets. There is more information about this on the AIDA website, here.

Tracking the changes from January 2010 to January 2011

The main value of revisiting the audit was to track the changes that had happened in the interim, the catalysts for many of which can be attributed to the LIFE-SHARE Project. This demonstrates the impact of the Project on embedding digitisation into the White Rose libraries (a key aim of LIFE-SHARE) and illustrates which processes have been useful, which skills gaps have been filled, and where the areas of investment have been in hardware and software.


At Leeds a new digitisation suite was created in Special Collections, providing the infrastructure to create high quality digitisation images in-house. A room was cleared and prepared for the suite, and then equipment such as a Digital SLR Camera and copystand were installed. Leeds will not be reliant on outsourcing to suppliers for future projects, and work is being undertaken to ensure a holistic overview is being taken on digitisation across the library sites. Peaks and troughs in the various digitisation teams’ schedules have been examined, with a view to working across teams in future. There are better mechanisms for sharing best practice, and a Digitial Content Coordinator has been appointed, to start in April.


At Sheffield the audio-visual digitisation suite located in Special Collections was developed and considerably added to with a number of new pieces of high end equipment. Training on analogue audio and analogue video was undertaken to help the staff get the most out of the suite, and staff also attended training on digitising images. A member of staff has been appointed to permanent digitisation duties, within Special Collections and other areas of the library. As with Leeds there will be more cross-team working to cope with periods of fluctuating demand for digitisation. Following the completion of an ongoing refurbishment of the library, a new digitisation suite will open in June.


At York, developments are underway, or are being considered, which will change digitisation processes radically. The first of these is a digitisation suite, which has just been set up in the Raymond Burton Library (and later in the Fairhurst Building) and which will bring together in one room equipment and processes which are currently dispersed. Some of the equipment in the digitisation suite has been funded by LIFE-SHARE. The second is the proposed digitisation service, which would see a more thorough reorganisation of digitisation activities, but this is still only a proposal. Other changes include the switching of Electronic Key Texts (online delivery of digital course readings) from being a pilot service to being a full service, renamed Electronic Texts and an increase in the number and complexity of YODL digitisation projects. The Borthwick Institute has embarked on a JISC-funded digitisation project, the Cause Paper Digitisation project, which is using some equipment funded by LIFE-SHARE and some from the project's own funding.