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Message from the Director

Does anyone read website welcome pages? If you do, then welcome to the website of the Digitization Program Office at the Smithsonian Institution! We are located in the Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and work across the Institution to increase the quality, quantity, and impact of Smithsonian digitized collections.

The Smithsonian is home to approximately 160 million objects, specimens, books, and archives, but only a small percentage of these items are on exhibit at any time. Digitizing these resources makes it possible for us to deliver them to you in places and on platforms of your choosing to enable greater creativity, learning, insight, and innovation. “Discovery through digitization” is our aspiration. 

We are working to achieve this through three programs.

Collections Digitization supports Smithsonian museums in their efforts to digitize collections as comprehensively, quickly, and cost-effectively as possible. The program’s Mass Digitization team creates high-speed, high-quality digitization processes to help museums ‘catch up’ with their digitization backlog. Its Imaging Services team helps museums ‘keep up’ with current needs by digitizing new acquisition and special collections. And its Informatics team devises automated ways to create and enhance collections records so the Smithsonian’s holdings are discoverable and accessible to all.

3D Digitization capture subsets of Smithsonian collections in 3D for use in education, research, and a host of creative activities. The 3D program also is developing the infrastructure needed to scale up 3D capture, preserve our 3D assets, and find more efficient and engaging ways to deliver 3D experiences.

Policy and Analysis oversees our digitization metrics and identifies policies and plans that address the Smithsonian’s digital assets. This program helps us understand digitization activities across the Institution by gathering retrospective (what has been digitized) and prospective (what needs to be digitized) data. These efforts inform decision-making about future digitization and digital stewardship needs across the Institution.

The common thread that underlies all our programs is “scale.” Given the size and extent of our collections, how can we efficiently digitize them?  How can we make them available without sacrificing quality, and in ways that enhance their use?

We constantly assess our methods and tools to find ways to address our “scale challenge” so we can enable greater discovery through digitization. When we do, and when we have new and exciting things to share, we will be sure to post them here.

-- Diane Zorich

Director, Digitization Program Office