Technical Specifications

Scanning and Digitization

Our projects feature materials that are scanned from print, microfilm and microfiche. While most of the scanning for Peel’s Prairie Provinces and other projects is completed by an outside vendor, the archival masters are produced and preserved as TIFF files, and more recently, JPG2000 files. The METS/ALTO open standard is also used as it allows for scanned materials to be segmented and indexed so they are easier to discover.

Our digitization projects are currently hosted by a custom Apache Cocoon application, using Apache Solr for full-text indexing. They will be moving into a Hydra-based repository.

Scanning also uses a variety of resolutions and bit depths:

  • Bitonal = 1 Bit, 300 DPI
  • Greyscale = 8 Bit, 300 DPI
  • Colour = 24 Bit, 300-600 DPI

Metadata Standards and Practices

Standards and Conventions

We make use of several metadata standards, the most important of which have been Metadata and Object Description Schema (MODS) and Dublin Core. As we migrate our digitized collections into our Hydra-based Digital Asset Management System we are making our metadata more linked data compatible by transforming to RDF, making use of common vocabularies such as DCMI Metadata Terms.

Controlled Vocabularies and Authorities

The use of controlled vocabularies and authorities is extremely important when striving to create high quality, consistent metadata. We make use of several, including:


We strive to make use of open-source tools for our metadata creation and editing. These include:

  • OpenRefine (open source tool for cleaning data)
  • AtoM (open source archival description and access application)
  • MarcEdit (open-source MARC editing utility)
  • publicly available metadata crosswalks

Metadata Repurposing

Reusing existing metadata - be it MARC records, notes in spreadsheets, etc. - with enhancements as necessary, promotes consistency and compatibility and improves efficiency. Whenever possible we attempt to follow this practice when undertaking new initiatives.

Collaboration and Consultation

An essential aspect of our digital initiatives is working with individuals or communities who wish to provide or develop digital collections. We work with them to understand their collections and potential user communities, and advise on the best means of creating quality, consistent metadata or on reusing and enhancing existing metadata.