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Collection Development Policy

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Saved by Debbie Cardinal
on May 10, 2011 at 3:12:07 pm


Wisconsin's cultural heritage institutions, through collaborative effort, provide the global community access to our state's history, culture, environment, government, and economy through a variety of digital formats via the World Wide Web.



  • Content will be accessible from one place
  • Content will be adequately indexed
  • Content will be expanded through digitization training and support for cultural heritage institutions


Guiding Principles:

The following principles govern Wisconsin Heritage Online and provide the basis for the collection:

  • Participation is open to all Wisconsin archives, historical societies, community groups, educational institutions, businesses, libraries and museums that wish to participate in a program to digitize and share their resources via the Internet.
  • The subject matter is interpreted broadly to include all aspects of Wisconsin history, culture, environment, government, and economy. Diverse content and points of view are encouraged, including all eras of history up to the present and all areas of the state.
  • Advances in technology may be used as a strategy to enhance access to the collections. Collections may be in a variety of formats including, but not limited to, print documents, manuscripts, photographs, slides, artifacts, art and art reproductions, postcards, drawings, maps, digital audio and video, and microform.
  • All materials made available online must be in the public domain or cleared for public access.
  • Content Providers will support their own servers or they will contribute to a CONTENTdm server hosted by the Milwaukee Public Library or to a server hosted by another institution.
  • The Wisconsin Heritage Online portal will provide a single point of entry to digital resources created and shared by Content Providers, regardless of the physical location of the resources. Wisconsin Heritage Online will not harvest or accept into hosted collections newspaper indexes, cemetery indexes or indexes to other cultural information.
  • The Milwaukee Public Library will not provide services for or host collections of online resources, such as a bibliography of existing web sites. Hosting services are for sites containing content, not for sites that point to content.



The audience is broadly defined as the combined audiences of all Wisconsin Heritage Online Content Providers. Due to the open nature of the Internet, people from around the world will access digital materials held by participating institutions regarding the history, culture, environment, government, and economy of Wisconsin. A wide variety of uses may be made of individual digital objects as well as the collection as a whole. To focus the initial efforts of the project, the Wisconsin Heritage Online Planning Committee identified five user categories:


  • The general/casual user: This user is similar to the museum visitor who is going to see a new exhibit or the library patron seeking general information, recreational reading or viewing materials.
  • The student or lifelong learner: The individual who is seeking basic level of information to support his/her K-12, secondary or university learning environment or the lifelong learner who is learning something new to advance his/her career or for general enrichment.
  • The hobbyist: These individuals may be genealogists, amateur historians, and others seeking information on a narrowly defined topic or set of topics.
  • The scholar/researcher: The individual who desires in-depth information to support his/her academic research.
  • The business community: The individual or organization who is obtaining information to support his/her business activities.


The different interests and needs of these users influence a variety of decisions regarding digital images. Decisions on the depth and breadth of the coverage, the intellectual level, the quality of the images, and the display approaches all are based on the audience, as determined by the institution delivering the digital objects.



The principal participants in Wisconsin Heritage Online are any Wisconsin archives, historical societies, community groups, educational institutions, businesses, libraries, museums and other organizations that have digital materials available for harvesting. Wisconsin Heritage Online may harvest digitized collections hosted by both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.


Cultural heritage institutions of all types in Wisconsin can contribute their digital content to Wisconsin Heritage Online through:

  • The Milwaukee Public Library's CONTENTdm hosted server.
  • Running and maintaining their own OAI-compliant content management system.
  • Arranging for hosting services through a partner’s content management system.


General Criteria for Content Providers:

Content Providers must

  •  Demonstrate commitment to the mission, vision, and guiding principles of Wisconsin Heritage Online.
  •  Apply Wisconsin Heritage Online standards and guidelines for digital imaging, metadata, and preservation.
  •  Have a plan for an ongoing, sustainable digital program.
  •  Ensure that digitized resources are viewable by the public via the Internet.
  •  Ensure that digitized resources are freely available to all users for personal, educational, informational, recreational and research use.
  •  Ensure that digitized resources are in the public domain or cleared for public access.
  • Have broadband access to the Internet if contributing collections through CONTENTdm, the digital content management system hosted by the Milwaukee Public Library.
  •  Process and adequately describe the collection to accord with Wisconsin Heritage Guidelines for digital imaging and metadata standards.
  •  Accept responsibility for preservation of digital master files.
  •  Demonstrate that funding support is available for reformatting, metadata creation, file storage and other special costs associated with the project. 
  •  Make metadata available for harvesting through implementation of OAI-PMH compliant server software.
  •  Have website facilities to distribute the images or arrange with the Milwaukee Public Library or another agency for hosting the collection.


Existing watermarked collections may be harvested for Wisconsin Heritage Online. The Milwaukee Public Library, service provider for CONTENTdm hosted collections, will not advocate watermarking or provide a technical solution or training for watermarking collections.  


Project Review Process:

  • Potential Content Provider fills out a Collection Hosting Application.
  • The application is reviewed and recorded by the Wisconsin Heritage Online Collection Development Working Group.
  • Potential Content Provider reviews Wisconsin Heritage Online guidelines, standards, and criteria.
  • The Collection Development Working Group endorses the proposed digital project.


Subject Formats and Categories:

Wisconsin Heritage Online Content Providers will digitize materials from their collections that represent the historic, cultural, environmental, governmental, and economic heritage of Wisconsin. The original materials may be textual, including diaries, letters, manuscripts, and published works; photographs; maps; art in two and three dimensional format and art reproductions; three-dimensional artifacts; graphic materials, including architectural drawings; digital audio and video; and microform.


Thematic categories may include, but are not limited to, the following:


Art and Architecture

Business and Industry


First Nations of Wisconsin



Immigration and Settlement

Institutions, Organizations & Associations

Medicine and Health





Wisconsin Heritage Online does not claim ownership of digital objects linked from the Wisconsin Heritage Online portal. Ownership remains with the originating site.


Data Accuracy:

Responsibility for accurate data rests with the institution contributing the digital content. Wisconsin Heritage Online does not warrant the accuracy, authority, or completeness of any information made available through the Wisconsin Heritage Online portal. Wisconsin Heritage Online recommends all Content Providers have an online means of collecting information regarding the accuracy of the content and a policy for the review and revision of their site.


Denial of Harvesting into Wisconsin Heritage Online:

The Wisconsin Heritage Online Collection Development Working Group may occasionally decide that a collection is not appropriate for harvesting for the following reasons:

  •  Metadata does not meet Wisconsin Heritage Online specified guidelines
  •  Quality of scanning or reformatting does not meet Wisconsin Heritage Online specified guidelines.
  •  Collection content does not meet Wisconsin Heritage Online guiding principles.


Removal of a Site:

From time to time, the Wisconsin Heritage Online Collection Development Working Group may recommend removal of a particular collection. Content may be removed for one or more of the following reasons:

  •  Site is not consistently and reliably available.
  •  Failure to comply with the Wisconsin Heritage Online guiding principles.
  •  Evidence that data is inaccurate.
  •  Recognized violation of copyright.
  •  Site is no longer intended for the public interest, but for purely commercial purposes.


The Content Provider may appeal the Collection Development Working Group’s recommendation for removal of their content from Wisconsin Heritage Online. In all cases, the Wisconsin Heritage Online Governing Board will be the final arbiter.


Policy Review:

This policy will be reviewed by the Wisconsin Heritage Online Collection Development Working Group every two years. The Collection Development Working Group will provide recommendations to the Wisconsin Heritage Online Governing Board for review and approval.

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