Digital Project Planning Worksheet

This worksheet aligns with the seven focus areas of Recollection Wisconsin’s Digital Readiness Levels. For detailed guidance on any section, refer to the Recollection Wisconsin Digital Readiness Toolkit.

Note: You may not have all of the answers at hand at the start of a project, and that’s ok! Treat this worksheet as an outline of the key components you should prepare for as your project evolves, and a space to record decisions as your project progresses.
See an example of how the African American Museum of Oakland (CA) filled out the Digital Project Planning Worksheet. 

Focus Area 1: Plan and Prioritize

Why Digitize?

What are your primary goals for this digital project? Many of these may fit, but select the 2 or 3 MOST IMPORTANT goals or objectives.
Improve internal access and intellectual control (e.g. inventory) Generate revenue (e.g. sell reproductions)
Improve public access to frequently-used items Use in programs (e.g. exhibits, presentations)
Improve public access to “hidden” or inaccessible items Use by teachers and students
Protect fragile or at-risk items Other:

How will this project support your organization’s mission or strategic plan? If your organization doesn’t have a mission or strategic plan, how does the project fit with your current services and offerings?



Who will this project serve? Is the project significant to the community? Does the digitization project serve the community?



In one or two sentences, how would you describe the significance of this project to a board member, funder, or community members?



Digital Project Prioritization

  No Maybe/
Yes Absolutely!
Value: Is there interest or value in these materials for genealogists, educators, researchers, community members, or other identified audiences? 1 2 3 4
Value: Do the materials contribute new voices or perspectives to the historical record (for example, materials document historically underrepresented groups in our community)? 1 2 3 4
Information context: Is there enough information available to add useful context (we know or can find out names of people, locations, dates)? 1 2 3 4
Availability: Are the materials unique and not already available online? 1 2 3 4
Legal/Ethical issues: Are the materials in the public domain (or we can get permission from the copyright holder) and there are no privacy concerns or other barriers to putting them online? 1 2 3 4
Condition: Are the materials in high-risk, deteriorating formats, particularly audiovisual recordings on media like audiocassettes, VHS tapes, CDs, or DVDs? 1 2 3 4

18 – 24 points: High priority for digitization
12 – 17 points: Medium priority
6 – 11 points: Low priority

Scope and Scale

What types of materials will be included in this project? Check all that apply.
Photographs, postcards, or other images Letters, diaries, or other handwritten manuscripts
Maps, blueprints, or other oversized images Three-dimensional objects
Slides, negatives, microfilm Analog Media: Film, Video, Audio (film, magnetic media: open reel and cassette, grooved discs)
Books or other printed texts Digital Media: optical discs, born-digital

Approximately how many items will be included in this project? __

Describe the scope of this project. List any subjects, locations, date ranges, etc. that will be included in the project. (Example: Photographs and postcards from 1870-1970 depicting buildings and people in our county. )




Describe what is NOT in scope for this project. (Example: Content from outside our county or where the location is unknown.)




Resources and Roles

What resources are needed to successfully complete this project? Specific costs may not yet be known, but keeping these categories in mind will help you build them into your project plan.

Resource Is this already in place? If yes, briefly describe. If no, what do we need to do to move forward? Costs
Skills and Knowledge (training, guidelines, technical standards) Y
(staff, volunteers, interns, vendors)
(scanner, digital camera, computer)
(for online access, image editing, text recognition)
(server, cloud storage, external hard drives)

Who will contribute to the project? Consider permanent staff, short-term staff, volunteers, and interns at your organization and at partner organizations. Some or all of these roles may be filled by the same people or may not yet be filled.

Role (Tasks) Activity Who's responsible?
(Names, positions, or vendors)
Project Management Monitor project plan, budget, and timeline
Coordinate project team members
Communicate with partners, vendors, and funders
Digitizing Organize and prepare materials for digitization
Scan materials
Perform quality control review on digital files
Assign file names
Cataloging Review copyright status and assign appropriate rights metadata
Determine metadata standards
Conduct research or provide context to describe items (subject expert)
Create metadata
File management Install, configure, and troubleshoot any hardware or software
Move digital files to long-term storage locations
Regularly audit and update storage
Outreach and evaluation Promote project to identified audiences
Respond to research and permissions requests
Collect analytics and user feedback

What are the total estimated expenses for this project based on the table above? Include recurring costs (software license, storage costs) as well as startup costs.




What sources of funding will you use to carry out and sustain this project? 





What is the copyright status of the items in this project? Check all that apply.

If the copyright status is... Then...
No copyright in the United States – in the public domain PROCEED. Describe how the public domain status was determined (i.e. publication date).
In copyright – our organization is the creator and copyright holder PROCEED.
In copyright – copyright holder has granted permission to use PROCEED. Make a note of when this permission was granted and where it is documented.
In copyright – Rights-holder(s) Unlocatable or Unidentifiable – need to obtain permission to use PAUSE. Request permission from copyright holder. If the copyright holder is unidentified, unlocatable, or not responding, document your attempts to contact.
Copyright Not Evaluated – have not yet reviewed copyright PAUSE. Conduct copyright evaluation before digitizing.

Other than copyright, are there reasons any items in the collection should NOT be made available online?

  • Items depict minors (i.e. junior high or high school yearbooks published in the last 10 years, home movies)
  • Items include personally identifiable information (i.e. Social Security numbers home address, birth date)
  • Items depict Native American graves, ceremonies, or other culturally sensitive content
  • Items depict any burial sites (other than cemeteries)
  • Items depict medical patients, incarcerated individuals, or other protected populations
  • Materials depicting emergency response, crime scenes, or disaster relief efforts that may include images of wounded or deceased people
  • Other:

Do any materials in the collection warrant closer consideration before sharing publicly online? Consider adopting a harmful content statement or limiting public access to items with any of the following:

  • Offensive/outdated racial or ethnic terms or depictions
  • Offensive/outdated gender or relationship-related terms, such as those for LGBTQ+ people
  • Items that “out” LGBTQ+ people if they were not publicly out during their lives
  • Cultural considerations, such as cultures that do not depict deceased individuals

Focus Area 3: Digitize

In-House, Outsource, or a Combination?

For some projects, it makes sense to digitize the materials yourself. In other cases, working with a vendor or partner might be the way to go.
Some factors to consider:

  • Is specialized equipment needed to digitize the materials, such as audiovisual recordings, oversized items, or microfilm?
  • Factoring in equipment purchases and staff or volunteer labor, will we save time and/or money by NOT doing it ourselves?
  • Are we willing to lend the items out for digitization off site?
  • Do we have the resources and knowledge about proper handling to adequately box and ship items to a vendor?
  • Are we lacking in specialized skills that will be necessary to complete digitization and quality control?

Mostly yes? Consider working with a vendor or partner to digitize.
Mostly no? This project is probably a good candidate for in-house digitizing.


What image resolution (ppi) and other standards will you use to create your digital files? (Example: 800ppi, 24-bit color)


Which file format(s) will you use for your primary files? Check all that apply.
TIFF (images or documents) MOV (moving images)
JPEG2000 (images or documents) WAV (sound)
PDF/A (documents) .DPX and .BWAV (motion picture film)
AVI (moving images)

Quality Control

As you digitize, be sure to review the digital files on a regular basis. This step is especially important when working with volunteers or vendors. Basic quality control includes confirming that files can be opened; files are named correctly; images are not skewed, off-center, rotated, or unevenly cropped; no unwanted materials or digital artifacts in the image.

How OFTEN will you perform a quality control review?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly

How MUCH content will you review?

  • 100% (for small projects)
  • A minimal amount: ____________________
  • For A/V, a few seconds at the beginning, middle and end of the recording


Focus Area 4: Describe


Which metadata elements will you use to describe the items?

Metadata elements may include (check those you will use):
Title Date created
Subject Formats/materials
Type Dimensions
Rights Location (community, county, state)
Creator (author, photographer, etc) Name of collection
Description Other:

Also see Appendix C: Audiovisual Inventory and Template, for more metadata elements specific to audiovisual materials.

File Naming

Consistent file naming is important for organizing your digital files and managing them in the future. Some file naming tips: use only lowercase letters, numbers, dashes and underscores; don’t use special characters such as ^”<>|? / : @’* &.(); don’t use spaces; use leading zeros (001, 002, 003, not 1, 2, 3).

Provide some example file names you will use for this project:




Focus Area 5: Share

If you will provide online public access to digital content, what access solutions will you use? Check all that apply.
CONTENTdm ResCarta
Omeka Partnership with public library system
PastPerfect Mukurtu
Internet Archive Vimeo / YouTube
Our website No online access, in house only

If you choose to share digital files online, which version of the files will you share – full-sized preservation files or smaller access files?

Will you allow downloads of material or prohibit downloads?

How will you promote this project to your target audiences?
Social media Announcement in organization’s newsletter or blog
In-person or virtual events (presentations, exhibits, etc.) Bookmark, postcard, or other print material
Press release to local media Other:

After your project is completed or available, users may contact you with a research question, to share more information about an item, or to request permission to use an item. How will users contact your organization with these requests, and who is responsible for responding?




Where will you store your primary digital files? Choose at least two options. Best practice is to save three copies in different locations, including one off-site.

Local area network or local server RAID device
Server at a partner organization External hard drive
Cloud storage provider Other:

How much storage space will you need? 

Image files: ______       x         ______           x      3     = _______ MB
(# of files)          (avg. file size in MB)

How often will you move digital files into the storage locations selected above?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • When project is completed

How often will you run integrity checks on the digital file storage locations?

  • Monthly
  • Biannually
  • Annually
  • Other timeframe: ___________________________


Who will be able to access the digital files in long-term storage? Note any logins or contact information needed for cloud storage providers or other offsite storage.




Are any reports required when this project is completed, such as to a board or funding agency? Note any reporting requirements and deadlines.



What kinds of information will you collect to understand how the digital project is being used?
Google Analytics or other web analytics Tracking research inquiries or permission requests
Social media engagement metrics (likes, shares) Other:
Feedback survey to users

In what ways can you involve the community in the project (shared space or resources, learning opportunities, etc.)?





What resources from the Toolkit will help you with your project?




Are there other resources that are not in the Toolkit that would help you with your project?







Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Digital Readiness Toolkit Copyright © 2023 by Emily Pfotenhauer; Vicki Tobias; and Kristen Whitson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book