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Digital by Dartmouth Library (DxDL)

Collection Development Policy Guidelines

General Scope

Digital by Dartmouth Library (DxDL) works collaboratively across the Library, Dartmouth, and other communities to develop unique digital collections. We value collections not only because they are unique to the Dartmouth Library, but because they are uniquely digital.

  1. Unique: We define unique as materials that are held only by Dartmouth Library, as well as materials to which we’ve added value by gathering disparate objects, adding original metadata, contextualizing with scholarship, or enabling original usage.
  2. Digital: We define the digital as materials that were born digital or have been reformatted to digital from manuscript, print, photographs, or time-based media such as audiotape or film.
  3. Collections: We define collections as groups of objects with one or more unifying characteristics, selected or created by subject experts within the Dartmouth community or among our collaborators. Subject experts can be anyone deeply engaged in a topic: scholars such as faculty and subject librarians, students engaging in coursework or other activities, researchers, exhibit curators, artists, and those with expertise in their own communities.

This approach to collections is purposefully broad, allowing Digital by Dartmouth Library to adapt to changing research and teaching priorities and technological advances. In order to thoughtfully, purposefully and sustainably build capacity and expertise, we are currently focusing on: 

Critically responsive collections: DxDL enables worldwide access to subject areas for which Dartmouth Library has particularly strong collections. We think critically about broad-scale curation, user experience, and responsiveness to scholarly priorities. 

Optimizing for reuse: Through metadata and infrastructure development, DxDL enables researchers to easily use objects and metadata in a variety of tools and contexts. We consciously connect our values and processes to the Collections as Data movement. 

Digital hubs: Unique digital content is being produced and acquired by units and individuals throughout the Library. DxDL builds processes to bring this content together for unified discovery and reuse by our identified communities. 


We are committed to building collections according to our values, in ways that are: 

  • Accountable and transparent. We make our processes and decisions visible.
  • Adaptable and Responsive. We create an environment that fosters curiosity, experimentation, and creativity.
  • Ambitious. We take risks and strive to exceed expectations. 
  • Collaborative. We recognize and respect expertise across organizations and communities, and value cross-functional partnerships. 
  • Diverse and inclusive. We develop culturally aware practices of curation, preservation, and dissemination.
  • Sustainable and responsible. We build sustainable digital, physical, and interpersonal infrastructure for ourselves and our users. 
  • Thoughtfully Open. We enable reuse of digital materials in a variety of disciplinary and creative contexts, while respecting and centering the needs and values of the communities who share stewardship of our collections.
  • User-centered. We focus on the needs of our users in every phase of our work.

We recognize that these values will sometimes be in tension, and we will work carefully and collaboratively to move forward with tension as a generative process. 

Selection Criteria and Priorities

We will work with collaborators to design projects and build collections according to these criteria and priorities:

  1. Dartmouth is the only library or institution that has these items; or this collection has a unique connection to Dartmouth; or, if the collection exists elsewhere, there is a unique value that only Dartmouth Library can bring. Questions we will consider include:
    1. If there are other openly available digital versions, how will DxDL- through digitization, description, colation, or otherwise- add value and further optimize the material for reuse?
    2. Does digitizing this item or collection help DxDL develop a corpus of materials related to this subject or focus?
  2. The project would center and give voice to marginalized or excluded communities not otherwise represented in the digital collections. Questions we will consider include:
    1. Does the project center marginalized communities in its workflows and processes? How are we including these communities but not speaking for them?
  3. We have the legal and moral right to make these items openly available online according to the principles of fair use; or we have the technical ability to thoughtfully limit access. Questions we will consider include:
    1. What rights does the Dartmouth Library, as an institution, have to freely distribute the material? 
    2. Even if we have clear rights to publish the material, or if it is in the public domain, are there other communities with a stronger cultural or moral right to determine whether this material should be made available, and how access should be mediated?
  4. This project will help Digital by Dartmouth Library develop in an area we have identified as a strategic priority. Questions we will consider include:
    1. Does this project contribute to building collections in our current subject areas of interest?
    2. Will pursuing this project, at this time, develop staff skills and experience, workflows, or collaborations that will help the Dartmouth Library and the Dartmouth community move toward future goals?
    3. Will this project further DxDL's commitment to furthering social justice?
  5. There is an identified user community for the materials. Questions we will consider include:
    1. Who are the targeted primary users? Dartmouth scholars, outside researchers, students in coursework or independent study, other communities to which we are or want to be connected?
  6. The materials are at risk in their current state. Questions we will consider include:
    1. Will digitization preserve and stabilize the materials, thus making them more widely available?
    2. Are we able to provide sustainable access to the materials and preserve them effectively?

Current Subject Areas of interest

  • Polar materials
  • Dartmouth History
  • Indigenous communities


Our priorities and areas of subject interest respond to the overall needs and interests of the Dartmouth community, including the Library, its partners, and faculty and students.


Creating, managing and preserving digital collections is an ongoing, resource intensive endeavor. In keeping with our values of sustainability and accountability, we will take on projects for which we have adequate technical and labor resources. In keeping with our values to be user-centered and ambitious, we will continue to advocate for the human and technical resources necessary to meet the needs of the Dartmouth community.

DxDL does not administer or manage licensed materials such as databases of electronic journals, ebooks, or other purchased library resources. 

DxDL collaborates closely with the Dartmouth Library’s Scholarly Communication, Copyright, and Publishing, Research Data, Born-Digital Archives and Oral History programs to determine appropriate workflows and platforms for digital materials.


We collaborate across the Dartmouth Library, across the Dartmouth campus, and beyond, with partners who include:

Specific Delineations 


We currently hold digital collections in English, Chinese and Latin. We are open to building collections in any language.

Geographical Areas

We currently hold digital collections with strengths in the Upper Valley and New England, as well as Polar regions. We are open to building collections covering any geographic area.

Types of Materials Collected

We digitize analog or make available born-digital: manuscripts, photographs, bound volumes, audio, video, film, objects, art and more from Dartmouth collections. 

Format of Materials Collected

Digitized and born-digital, in accordance with digital preservation policy

Collective Collections

The Dartmouth Library is a founding member of the New Hampshire Digital Library, the emerging statewide service hub for the Digital Public Library of America. DxDL partners have contributed to NHDL infrastructure and policy development in support of enabling discovery of DxDL materials through the national DPLA platform in accordance with the DPLA collection development policy.