Collections A-Z


About Us

About the Space

Maps, Timelines, Tools


About Digital Initiatives

What We Do | Our History | Our People

What We Do

The Digital Initiatives department digitizes. That may not come as a surprise, but despite the fact that it is not all we do, digitization -- including the scanning of photographs, feed scanning of books, conversion of legacy files, batch processing of born-digital files, and other tasks -- is the foundation by which we build our collections and web sites and through which we digitally preserve institutional, local and scholarly material and resources.

But, again, digitizing is not all we do. We also work with departments, schools, librarians, citizens, machines, code, and each other to provide guidance on digital tools, projects and preservation, and to identify, acquire, and promote new collections.

Our History

The department was established in 2008 with an initial charge to digitize and make accessible the library's renowned International Jazz Collections. Material from the Jazz Collections continue to be added to this day, and we continue to build on our collections. We currently maintain over 70 digital collections and applications, and work that begun in the lab has now been incoporated into a library department, Data and Digital Services, and a University center, the Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning (CDIL). CDIL is a collaboration between the library and the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS) that intends to improve the capacity for digital scholarship work at UI.

Our People

Devin Becker, Head, Data and Digital Services and Director of CDIL
Phone: 208.885.7040

Jessica Wilson-Saia, Digital Projects Manager
Phone: 208.885.9444

Kevin Dobbins, Digital Lab Manager
Phone: 208.885.9444

Student Workers: Colton Clark, Amanda Gravelle, Autrey Jeske, Brianna Love, and Kaitlin Nason

About the Space

The Lau Center for Digital Scholarship == Digital Scholarship Lab == CDIL

The majority of the scanning and computer work that we do in Digital Initiatives is done in the Lau Center for Digital Scholarship, or Room 211, which is also known as the Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning and the Digital Scholarship Lab. Regardless of what it's called, the room is on the second floor of the library. Originally constructed as a space to support the research interests of the university -- David and Ann Lau donated funds in the 1990s to what was then the Lau Periodicals Service Center in honor of David's parents, Heber and Rhea -- the center was re-dedicated in April 2011 to acknowledge its function as the digital heart of the library.

In 2016, the library and CLASS received a Vandals Ideas Grant to revamp the space and add capacity for working with faculty from CLASS. New funiture and technology was introduced into the room, which now often houses classes and workshops in addition to the students and faculty that work on various projects in the space.

Remarks at the Re-dedication of the Lau Center for Digital Scholarship

The double bind and opportunity of digital scholarship is that it must deal simultaneously with both the macro and the micro, uncovering both the emergent patterns of the everyday and the exceptional objects that accumulate into these patterns. As such, digital scholarship's mode, it's m.o., must be that of re-discovery, of uncovering that which has been here all along but which has been missed, forgotten, or at a scale too large or small for us to see.

The work that we do here then, in this "renewed" space, the Lau Center for Digital Scholarship, is important not only for the University but also for the State of Idaho and the Northwest generally, as the digitization that these exceptional objects undergo and the online access we provide to them allows all those interested in Idaho and our University, be they in Moscow or Pocatello, Seattle or Helena, the ability to uncover for themselves those objects and patterns that make our institution, our library, and our collections unique. I thank you for your support of this work. It is, in my admittedly biased opinion, integral to the uncovering of both the past and future of this Library and our University.

- Devin Becker

Maps, Timelines, Tools

Using the Map and Timeline Features

We create our maps and timelines using Google Fusion Tables and Simile Timeline web applications. The locations and dates have been assigned to these items with access in mind, not absolute accuracy, and should thus be regarded as approximate in most cases.

If you are interested in how accurate a date or location, click on the photo and check to see if the date or location is listed in the title or description field. If it is, you can be fairly confident in the date and/or location; if it's not, we have assigned that information using our own knowledge of the collection and the area.

If you notice any errors, please send an email with your correction(s) and the url of the problem image to dbecker@uidaho.edu, or click on the link at the bottom of the information window that pops up when you click on a spot on the map. That link will take you to this form, where you can enter your information.

Our Tools

Web Interaction



Tag Clouds:

  • Tag Crowd - for subject and keyword connected word clouds.

Web Design:

  • Kuler - Adobe's online color palette maker.
  • W3 Schools - for learning the basics about web languages.
  • JQuery - for incorporating Javascript libraries.



Other Useful Digital Tools


  • Dropbox - Synchronized File Organizer and Updater - serves well for back up and transfer of files.
  • Evernote.
  • Zotero - Citation Manager, Database, and other - works well with a number of other products.

Textual Analysis


  • NodeXL - Network visualization using Excel
  • Many Eyes - Intuitive site with many ways to visualize both textual and numerical data
  • Google Charts



More about Digital Humanities (Projects, etc.)

More about Visualization and Data Journalism

(A Much bigger list like this - Digital Research Tools Wiki)

Guidelines and Practices

Scanning and Preservation Procedures

Scans are performed and saved as non-compressed Tiffs and stored on two external hard drives, one of which resides in Moscow and one of which resides in Coeur D'Alene. TIFFs are also backed up to the internal hard drive of computers in the Lau Center for Digital Scholarship, room 211.

Variable scanning resolutions are described below. The primary purpose is to have approximately 4000 pixels across the top of the image for images smaller than 8 x 10, and 6000 pixels for images 8 x 10 and greater.


  • 8 X 11 paper - 400 dpi
  • Pieces of paper smaller than 5 x 7 are scanned at 600 dpi

Photographs, Slides & Negatives:

  • All photographs are scanned in color
  • 8 x 10 and up scan at 400-600 dpi
  • Images between 5 x 7 to 8 x 10 scan at 400-600 dpi
  • 5 x 7 down to 3 x 5 scan at 600 dpi
  • Smaller than 3 x 5 scan at 1200 dpi

3D objects:

  • All 3D objects are photographed at 400-600 dpi
  • When possible photograph various sides of the object
  • Photograph a close up of significant details on the object that add to its value

Feed Scanner:

  • We scan larger documents using our feed scanner
  • Pages are scanned anywhere from 400 - 600 dpi

Metadata Guidelines

Since we are using the CONTENTdm database access management system, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) is the primary source of our metadata standards. Metadata for objects begins following the needs of the collection. When ingested into CONTENTdm, those idiosyncratic standards are translated into Simple Dublin Core to enable the harvesting of that metadata into OCLC's WorldCat catalog and other aggregators.


The below sources guide our metadata, scanning, and preservation practices:

Authority sites

LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings)

AAT (Getty's Art and Architecture Thesaurus)

LCTGM (Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials)

USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)

Metadata sites

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)

BCRs CDP Digital Imaging Best Practices (2.0)

CDL Guidelines for Digital Libraries by the California Digital Library