The UCD Digital Library provides a rich environment for resource discovery, exploration and use. As practitioners, the team as a whole have extensive knowledge and expertise on all aspects of digital library workflows. This section collates the policies, procedures and guidelines, and publishes them online so that all processes are transparent.

We are working to bring you useful information about how to plan a digitisation project, and what you need in order to engage us in the process.

UCD Digital Library Collection Development Policy

The UCD Digital Library provides:
  • Free global access to Irish heritage materials and other scholarly materials that fall within the scope of this Collection Development Policy
  • Preservation for at-risk collections i.e. where the physical object is deteriorating
  • A service for customers and donors who request the digitisation of materials (provided they fall within the scope of this collection development policy)

UCD’s Digital Library supports the development of digital collections through the conversion of materials into digital formats and the transfer of born-digital collections.

UCD’s digital library collections facilitate worldwide access to Irish cultural and heritage materials, bringing hidden primary sources to the surface. Digitised collections are availableto scholars, researchers, historians, educators and members of the public in an easily accessible and equitable way, free of charge.

Digitising collections can help to save collections from further physical deterioration and so our activities play an important preservation role. We also ensure that the digital artefact itself is preserved.

Enhanced access and preservation are not the only benefits of digitisation. Digitisation gives users new ways of using the collections, supports new analysis, and offers new methods of discovery.

UCD Library embraces the principle of collaboration and partnership and will enter into collaborative agreements with Schools, Research Institutes, Repositories, and external organisations to further our digitisation goals. A Memorandum of Understanding will be drawn up and agreed between both/all for collaborating organisations.

Selection and Prioritisation

Not everything that we would like to digitise can be digitised; nor can we necessarily accept every born-digital collection that we would like. We operate within constraints of resources such as available staff and time. Below are the criteria used for selection; however, not all criteria need to be met in order for a collection to be included in the Digital Library:

  • Demand: Has there been demand for this material or for similar items, or do we anticipate demand? (Examples might be materials of relevance to key anniversaries)
  • Relevance: Is the material of relevance to Irish heritage and culture? Is the material of relevance to scholarship generally?
  • Rarity: Is the material unique? Has it been digitised elsewhere?
  • At risk material: Is the original material at risk? Is it deteriorating quickly, or is it in a poor but stable condition? Will it be more expensive to digitise later?
  • Condition: Is the digitised form a good enough representation of the material to be accessed as an alternative to the original?
  • Re-use: Does the digitised form support re-use and repurposing in new and novel ways?
  • Adding to existing collections: Does the digitised form contribute to an existing collection, bringing together materials in different ways, enhancing existing collections?
  • Value: Is the material likely to be useful to audiences with different motivations at different times? Does it add to UCD's distinctiveness and recognition?
  • Metadata: Is there appropriate metadata in existence or is there a plan is in place to produce it?
  • Equipment and technical capability: Is there appropriate equipment and technical capability available? If not is this part of the proposed funding plan?
  • Copyright / IPR: Is the material out-of copyright or material with open licensing?
  • Collaboration: Will digitising this material provide an opportunity for collaboration and partnership with repositories, academic centres and/or external organisations?

Selection Procedure

Requests for digitisation of physical collections will be considered by UCD Library’s Digital Library Steering Committee, in conjunction with UCD Library’s Collections Unit. The decision-making process will take into consideration all information collected in the Collection Profile document.

Offers to donate digitised material will be considered in line with our Collections Policy and other relevant policies. Similarly, the Library will consider donations of physical material that are made on the condition that digital copies are made, should these be deemed congruent with the Collections Policy.


Access to the digitised material is an essential part of the wider digitisation process and the following requirements relating specifically to access will inform our digitisation activities:

  • Levels of access. While the vast majority of the Digital Library collections are openly and freely available to both remote and local users, it is possible to provide degrees of restricted access, e.g. on Campus access only; or via application to an appropriate repository.
  • Item-level description. Descriptive metadata and/or text equivalents will be provided at the item level.
  • User contributions. User contributions may be sought to supplement the Library's description of digitised items.
  • Rights statements. Each digitised item will have rights and terms of use information that tells users how they can use, re-use and re-purpose the material.
  • Extensibility. Digitised material will be available in an open and usable manner to meet changing user expectations and support new uses, new purposes and new services.
  • Identifiers. Identifiers will be provided at the item level to support the principles of description, user contribution and rights statements above, and to encourage accurate citation and the use of primary sources.

The Library will provide its own website and online access channels, and support other organisations to provide discovery and access services using our digitised material.

Not in scope for the Collection Development Policy for Digital Collections

The following categories are not covered by this policy:

  • Teaching and learning resources
  • UCD staff research publications (e.g. articles, papers) – these are looked after by the UCD Research Repository (
  • Student projects
  • Copyrighted material, which is being actively protected and copyright is explicitly not granted
  • Private collections intended for private use
  • Theses

Originally published April 2013; updated March 2017