Skip to Content

University Libraries

  • Mosaic banner comprised of many smaller images from various digital collections. These images include photographs, drawings, and text with words too small to be clearly legible.

Digital Collections

Consistent with the University Libraries’ mission to make collections accessible worldwide, 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. Every effort is made to portray true color and likeness without any editing. All items are described, many can be downloaded, and all can be cited in your research.

Search Digital Collections

What does this search?

Advanced Search

What does this search?

Advanced Search

What does this search?

Our Partners

USC’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, Access & Use

The Digital Collections Department enjoys working with faculty on projects that are important to their teaching and research. We 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.

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 National Digital Stewardship Alliance, USC 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 ppi. Preservation metadata is added to the TIFF header during post-processing. All files are backed up internally and selected materials are preserved through Archivematica and cloud storage. An inventory of all collections and files is kept up-to-date and the process is reviewed annually and updated when possible. See Digital Preservation Framework, Version 2 for more details.

The University of South Carolina Libraries make every effort to ensure that it has appropriate rights to provide access to content. Where possible, the University of South Carolina Libraries secures the rights to use works that are in copyright. Materials made available online are for educational and scholarly use.

Read the full policy.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.