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Digitization & Preservation Assistance

Digitization & Preservation Assistance: California Revealed

Does your organization have collections related to local, regional, or state history that you'd like to digitize and share online? 

For example: VHS tapes? Scrapbooks? Audio cassettes? Microfilm reels? Slides? Newsletters?

Do you need help with online access and preservation for a digital collection -or- for a digitization project that's already been completed?

California Revealed is a State Library initiative that helps California’s heritage organizations digitize and provide long-term online access and preservation to collections and objects significant to California history (e.g., books, documents, newspapers, and audiovisual recordings). We also provide access and preservation services for existing digital collections and in-house digitization programs. A full introduction is available here:

Each year, California Revealed issues an open call for organizations to nominate their collections related to California history for Digitization & Preservation Assistance. Features include:

  • Partner organizations nominate materials to be digitized (or existing digital collections to be ingested) and published online by California Revealed

  • Partners provide metadata descriptions for the materials

  • With LSTA funding, the State Library supports free digitization (using selected vendors nationwide), online hosting for public access, and digital preservation

  • Partners receive their own page on the California Revealed website that displays their digital collection

  • Materials are discoverable through the California Revealed website, the Internet Archive, the Digital Public Library of America, Calisphere, WorldCat, and the Home Movie Registry 

  • Partners receive copies of the files and fulfill user/patron requests for high-resolution files 

An additional goal of California Revealed is to foster collaboration and encourage regional partnerships between public libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and community groups to collectively reveal local heritage. Past collaborations have included helping one another with the nominations process, sharing shipment costs, working on shared outreach projects, and serving as secondary digital preservation storage sites for files.

The 2023/2024 Digitization & Preservation Assistance Application is now closed.

Pending budget approval, the 2024/2025 Digitization & Preservation Assistance Application will open in Summer 2024. 

There are two requirements to be considered for the Digitization & Preservation Assistance program:

  • Complete the Digitization & Preservation Assistance Application form
  • Attach your finished Nominations Spreadsheet to the application form or email it to

Applicants also have the option to submit individual nominations using the California Revealed Repository. If you prefer this method, please contact us to set up an account and review the initial instructions for accessing the Repository

Pending budget approval, 2023/2024 applicants will be notified regarding their acceptance in late October 2023, with project cycles spanning November 2023 to June 2024. If assistance is offered, we will require permission from your organization and the director's signature on the Digitization and Preservation Agreement.

Nominations are considered according to California Revealed's selection criteria:

  • Statewide and/or local historical significance that contributes to an understanding of the history of California and its people
  • Preservation concerns due to deteriorating condition and/or outdated formats
  • Research value and requests by users
  • Intellectual property rights in the public domain, held by the owning institution, or secured from the rights holder, when possible
  • Evidence of collaboration with community organizations
  • Technical limitations of digitization equipment and the cost of digitization relative to available project funding

Browse the online collections to get a sense of the objects digitized and preserved so far. Preference is given to new partner organizations, as well as to collections that reflect communities who traditionally have been underrepresented in the historical narrative of California. 

We accept nominations for physical and digital materials, and there is no nomination limit. If demand exceeds available funds, services may be offered for a portion of the submitted nominations. Remaining objects may be deferred and reconsidered for the next grant cycle. We try our best to provide services for all collections with ongoing State Library support.

California Revealed typically prefers to digitize all objects within a specific collection or series. Collections that include objects in a variety of formats are welcome. When possible, please nominate all objects in a collection or series to keep collections together. In instances where it is not practical or possible to nominate the entire collection for digitization, you are welcome to only nominate the objects within the collection that you wish to digitize. 

Partners are required to follow our Metadata Guidelines when creating the metadata records for their nominations. Records that are incomplete or do not conform to our standards must be corrected before the objects can be considered for digitization.

A metadata record can represent a single object (e.g., an individual photograph, a video recording, a digital file), or an object with multiple parts or pages (e.g., an oral history consisting of several tapes, a book of many pages). You may nominate bound books of newspapers or microfilm reels of newspapers as a single record encompassing the entire title or run. 

Minimum Required Metadata

  • Main Title - A name or label given to the object.
  • Call Number or Temporary Identifier - Unique identifier assigned to the object by your organization.
  • Created Date - Date of creation of the resource. Enter YYYY-MM-DD, YYYY-MM, or YYYY. If unknown, enter "XXXX". For objects created over a period of time, please enter that date range, e.g. 1941/1944.
  • Creator - An entity primarily responsible for creating the resource. The creator may be considered an author and could be one or more people, a business, organization, group, project or service. For individual creators, enter using the following format: Last Name, First Name. If unknown, enter "Unknown."
  • Significance - Please explain why the object is significant to California and/or local history. This is the major criterion for inclusion. Please justify why the object should be preserved and made accessible for future generations. This field will not display online and is for nomination purposes only.
  • Description - General notes or summary about the content and context of the object. Please copy over any content description from the "Significance" field, and provide as much detail as possible to enhance discoverability. 
  • Copyright Statement - Information about rights held in and over the object. Review our resources on Copyright and Permissions for assistance. For this field, please choose one of the three boilerplate statements supplied and amend the statement with your contact information as needed:
    • Public domain. 
      • Full statement: "Public Domain. No restrictions on use."
    • Copyrighted. Rights to the work are owned by the partner or copyright holder has given partner permission. 
      • Full statement: "Copyrighted. Rights are owned by [insert name of Library/Archive or Copyright Holder]. Copyright Holder has given Institution permission to provide access to the digitized work online. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the Copyright Holder. In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user."
    • Copyright status unknown. The work may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.), but its status is unknown. 
      • Full statement: "Copyright status unknown. This work may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, it's reproduction may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. This work is accessible for purposes of education and research. Transmission or reproduction of works protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. [insert name of Library/Archive] attempted to find rights owners without success but is eager to hear from them so that we may obtain permission, if needed. Upon request to [insert email address at Library/Archive], digitized works can be removed from public view if there are rights issues that need to be resolved." 
  • Media Type - Choose from the following: Still Image, Text, Moving Image, or Sound.
  • Condition - If the object is deteriorated, damaged, or requires special handling, please comment accordingly. This field will not display online; it is mostly for nomination purposes initially, and can be helpful information for the digitization vendor.
  • Format - See Metadata Guidelines for controlled vocabulary list. For example, book, photograph, text document (unbound), map, drawing. If a moving image recording or audio recording, then format specific type and gauge, e.g., 1 /8 inch audio cassette, Film: 16mm. See drop-down options on nominations spreadsheet.
  • Number of parts - For example, total number of pages (for bound or unbound resources), images, cassette tapes, film reels, LP records, e.g. 3 Pages, or 3 Tapes. If you are nominating a folder of items, please let us know the number of pages in the folder. If you are nominating a scrapbook, please let us know the number of pages and inserts per page. It can be approximate; this information is used to estimate costs for digitization.
  • Dimensions or Duration - Physical dimensions (width and height in inches) for texts and still images, e.g., 12 x 18 in.; total running time for audiovisual recordings, e.g., 00:40:00. It can be approximate. This information is used to estimate costs for digitization. If you are nominating a folder of items, please let us know the maximum dimensions of the biggest item in the folder. Please note that the maximum dimensions of oversize print materials, e.g., books, photographs, newspapers, that can be accommodated without digital stitching are 37 inches in the long dimension and 28 inches in the short dimension.

Additional Metadata

In order to maximize the discoverability of your collection, we encourage you to add more than just the required fields, with an emphasis on:

  • Item Annotations - Any relevant information as it is recorded on container, label(s), and/or the item itself. Record all text verbatim.
  • Subject Topics and Entities - Topic headings, keywords and/or personal names that portray the intellectual content of the resource.
  • Spatial and Temporal Coverage - The geographic location and/or the time period covered by the resource's intellectual content.
  • Genre - Categorical description informed by the topical nature or a particular style or form of the content.

How to Apply Webinar: Recording and Slides

  • Recorded June 29, 2023, this webinar introduces California Revealed with a focus on the Digitization & Preservation Assistance application and nominations process. 


We encourage you to review our Frequently Asked Questions and the program timeline.

Feel free to contact the California Revealed Team:
(916) 603-6719/