Creating & Preserving Digital Collections

It is the policy of IWU’s Archives and Special Collections to promote and present selective and/or representative records with historical significance to the University in fully searchable, online collections when it is legally and financially possible to do so. Examples of such records are meeting minutes from campus committees, official publications from campus-connected organizations (student publications, honors research, alumni publications, etc.), and photographs or other media. In cases where privacy or confidentiality is a concern, such collections may be restricted to campus access only but the default preference is towards open access whenever possible.


In the case of digitized materials*, we will preserve original artifacts in whatever state they currently exist regardless of whether or not digital copies are created. Where warranted by the significance of the record and likelihood of preserving the content, conservation treatments needed to prevent deterioration may be attempted.

In the case of born-digital objects, our goal is to maintain long-term accessibility to the unique digital collections created, purchased or acquired by the library for which it has custodial or curatorial responsibilities.

This preservation policy aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • preserving and providing continued access to digital material, both born digital and digitized;
  • ensuring that preserved digital materials are authentic;
  • preventing damage and deterioration of the physical media by ensuring adequate environmental control;
  • creating digitized copies in formats that make future migration possible; and
  • changing the format of digital materials to preserve their intellectual content if necessary.

We will make efforts to take the needs and desires of our community (including digital content creators) into consideration when making preservation decisions; however, as long as the library retains sole responsibility for caring for this content, we assert decision making authority for

  • formats we will accept as is and which ones we will normalize, if applicable, to protect the content;
  • levels of preservation/protection needed (storage vs. long-term, bit-level file management);
  • access levels needed and who will provide access to off-line material; and
  • preservation systems considerations (e.g., hosted or not, end-user accessible or not).

* Records that have been digitized for these purposes have been created from historical master copies which may contain opinions, language, images, or other content that the modern reader may find offensive or in other ways reflect the sensibilities and capabilities of the creators in historical times. The IWU Archives presents these documents as part of the historical record and does not endorse the attitudes expressed therein. Furthermore, the Archives cannot alter historical records to suit contemporary needs. In certain cases, it may be possible to add notes or comments correcting verified errors, but these exceptions still will not be applied in a way that changes the appearance of the authentic record.

Questions about this policy may be directed to University Archivist & Special Collections Librarian Meg Miner at; 309-556-1538.

Last updated January 21, 2021 
CC0: This work has been marked as dedicated to the public domain.