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Making progress on the digitization challenge with Secretary Wayne Clough and Under Secretary Richard Kurin’s help.

The DPO--What We Do

By Günter Waibel, DPO on Wed, 04/30/2014 - 04:45

The Digitization Program Office (DPO) was founded to “integrate digitization into the core functions of the Smithsonian,” as the inaugural digitization strategic plan eloquently states. With 138 million objects and specimens, 157 thousand cubic feet of archival materials, and 2 million library volumes, all of which are housed in 41 facilities, 19 museums and 9 research centers, the scale and diversity of Smithsonian collections presents a unique digitization challenge.

The Digitization Program Office meets the challenge by establishing metrics which track digitization progress across the Smithsonian; by running digitization prototype projects in our museums which enhance the understanding of how fast and cost-efficient digitization can be without compromising quality; by investigating cutting-edge technologies such as 3D digitization in their application to our collections and scientific research; and by investigating additional tools and techniques such as robotic and conveyor belt capture to further increase productivity.

We feel a great sense of urgency around bringing our collections to the public online. With less than 1% of the collections on display on the National Mall at any given time, there are many treasures and stories that are begging to be brought into the virtual light. Our digital collections are the raw materials which let our educators and curators reach new audiences, and allow our scientists to engage the world in new discoveries. Even more importantly, digital collections allow our audiences to go on their own journeys of learning, discovery and appreciation, and teach us something about the Smithsonian collections along the way.

On this website, you can learn about Digitization Program Office activities, as well as the myriad digitization stories evolving every day in the collections spaces of the Smithsonian.