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University Libraries

Digital Collections

The Digital Collections department scans rare, unique, and fragile items held by University Libraries and publishes them online for researchers on campus and around the world. All items are described, many can be downloaded, and all can be cited in your research.

Use our new online portal to search across all collections, learn more about individual collections, and to read department updates. View our most recent digital exhibition here.


More Ways to Access

A keyword searchable database of our collections can also be found on this site. Browse below to narrow by format or topic.



Our Partners

UofSC’s Digital Collections shares their materials with and supports the following partners. Items found in USC’s collections can also be found in these partners’ repositories. Browse below for more information on each partner and to see what else you can find online:


Guidelines and Goals

Scanning & Metadata

University Libraries follows the Scanning and Metadata Guidelines of the South Carolina Digital Library and Digital Public Library of America.

Faculty Requests & Preservation

Faculty Guidelines for Requesting a Digital Collection

The Digital Collections Department would like to work with faculty on projects that are important to their teaching and research. We, however, must balance the work of a small staff among many projects. Faculty can assist by working with the department to define reasonable timelines and where possible provide funding for staffing.

Working with University Libraries' Digital Collections ensures the digitized materials will remain in a stable environment for long-term access and will be made accessible through a reliable, trustworthy and credible source.

If there are materials (preferably a “collection” of materials as defined by the library) in the Columbia campus Libraries’ special collections that a faculty member would like scanned and made available online for either pedagogical or research purposes, the Digital Collection team requests that:

  • Faculty contact the relevant special collections unit directly and propose the digital project at least nine months in advance of the project completion date.
  • Faculty agree in writing (can occur via email) with the special collections unit on what the final outcome of the project will look like before the project is begun.
  • If a grant proposal is involved, please contact Digital Collections and the special collections unit early in the grant writing process, so they can add necessary funds to the budget for scanning, metadata, preservation and any needed conservation for the materials.

Once the project is defined, Digital Collections will scan the materials, create the metadata following national standards, and load the materials to the library’s digital repository.

USC Libraries Digital Preservation and Sustainability Goals

Digital assets are part of the University Libraries collections and subject to the same criteria for selection and retention decisions as other media. As such, they are included under the central mission of the library: ensuring the collections remain available over the long term through prevention of damage and deterioration; reversing damage where possible; and, when necessary, changing the format of materials to preserve their intellectual content.

As a member of the MetaArchive Cooperative and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, UofSC librarians regularly attend conferences and workshops, such as the POWRR Institute, to stay informed of developments with digital preservation and do their best to follow national standards.

In-house, the department creates and maintains archival masters of all digital formats. For master images, the uncompressed, open source TIFF format is used. Items are scanned at the highest quality possible, but no less than 300 dpi. Preservation metadata is added to the TIFF header during post-processing. All files are backed up internally and selected materials are preserved through the MetaArchive Cooperative. An inventory of all collections and files is kept up-to-date and this whole process is reviewed annually and updated when possible.