Digital Readiness Levels

The Digital Readiness Levels are a structured roadmap for public history organizations to plan and sustainably grow their digital initiatives in order to improve access to collections.

Focus Area Bronze Silver Gold
Laying a strong foundation Putting it into practice Refining and sustaining
Plan and Prioritize Set goals for digital work that fit the organization's mission and policies. Adopt a digital mission statement or revise existing mission statement to include digital work. Identify and prioritize potential digital projects. Make a digital project plan that includes roles, activities, required resources and partners. Adopt a digital collection development policy or revise existing policy to include digitized and born digital content.
Obtain Permissions Create and use permission forms and donor agreements that include specific language for the use of digitized and born digital content or modify existing forms. Evaluate copyright status of content. Identify items with access restrictions or concerns, including privacy, ethical, or cultural considerations. Assign standardized rights statements or Creative Commons licenses for collection items. Adopt a takedown policy and, if applicable, a statement on harmful content.
Digitize Determine standards and procedures to be used to digitize physical materials or process born digital content. Using identified standards, undertake digitization or born-digital processing work either in-house or with an appropriate vendor or partner. Use a quality control checklist to review content and confirm it meets identified standards.
Describe Adopt a consistent naming convention for digital files. Determine standards to be used to describe digital content. Using identified standards, create basic descriptive metadata for terms. Develop a data dictionary and use controlled vocabularies to standardize metadata.
Share Review goals and options for providing access to content. Choose an access platform or system that meets identified needs. Make items and associated descriptive information available for discovery and repurposing. Implement techniques to support accessibility of online content, including alt text, transcripts, and other best practices.
Store and Maintain Create and maintain a collection-level inventory of digital content. Store at least two, preferably three, copies of each primary file and related metadata, with one copy stored off-site. Check and refresh storage media on a regular schedule. Plan for future storage needs. Use software tools to check file integrity.
Evaluate Identify primary users and ways to engage them with digital content. Collect data and stories about how digital content is stored. Use collected data and stories to inform future collection development, outreach, and programming. Share knowledge with other practitioners to build community around digital work.


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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.

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