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Digital Initiatives: Donations

Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library


Help engage in building, sharing, and preserving North Dakota history! Primary sources accessible online are crucial for future generations to understand the past. Now is the time to tell the stories that have not yet been told. Explore the sections below to learn more about how you can contribute content.

Donations: Digital Materials & Print Books

Digital Materials

A great way to help and get involved is by donating materials to the ND State Library for inclusion in its digital collections. Donations are accepted to these digital collections:

Digital Initiatives only collects digital copies of materials, so you do not have to donate your physical items (like photographs, documents, and objects). In some cases, Digital Initiatives may borrow your materials for a period of time, but once digitization is complete, the analog/ physical items will be returned.

The ND State Library is not an archive so the physical preservation of these materials falls out of its scope. If you are interested in donating your archival materials to an institution that can properly store and care for them, consider contacting a local museum or historical society. You may also want to consider contacting the State Historical Society of North Dakota (either the Archives or Museum division).

What We Collect/ What to Donate

For its digital collections, the ND State Library accepts copies of:

  • Atlases & plat books
    • North Dakota locations only
  • Audio/ visual materials
    • Oral histories
    • Videos
  • Books
    • Histories (county, town, church, or organizational), cookbooks, etc.
    • Books must have a North Dakota connection
  • Documents
    • Letters, diaries, maps, booklets or pamphlets, certificates, recipes, programs, etc.
  • Images
    • Photographs, negatives, slides, etc.
  • Objects
    • Paintings, badges, medals, artworks, commemorative plates, awards/ plaques, etc.
  • Yearbooks
    • Yearbooks must be from a North Dakota school and be at least 50 years old (because of copyright and privacy - consult the Yearbooks page for more information)

The ND State Library encourages submissions of photographs, documents, objects, oral histories, videos, etc.

  • It is preferred that items have some North Dakota connection.
  • It is highly recommended that these items be identifiable (meaning things like the people, location, and approximate time period are able to be determined).

Still not sure what to submit? Here are a few suggestions and tips to give you some ideas.

  • Items can be from any time period, but more recent items (like photographs) should have been taken by participants so there are no copyright issues.
  • Family photographs are probably the most commonly submitted items. When it comes to family photographs, the older they are, the better.
  • If possible, submit a digital version of the original item (like photographs or documents) instead of a digital version of a copy.
  • As a general rule, do not submit anything that you would not be comfortable having displayed online.

Consult these handouts for additional information on what should or should not be submitted:

Who Can Donate?

As long as the proper criteria are met (see the other sections on this page), the ND State Library accepts donations for its digital collections from:

  • Private citizens
  • Cultural heritage institutions (libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, etc.)
  • Other organizations (businesses, churches, etc.)

How to Donate

There are a few different ways content can be donated and contributed to the ND State Library's digital collections.


If you live or work in the Bismarck-Mandan area, or happen to be passing through, you can contact Digital Initiatives and set up a digitization appointment at the ND State Library (which is located on the Capitol grounds). Your items will be borrowed, digitized, and then returned to you. You will also be provided a flash drive containing digital copies of your items

Depending on the quantity of items, it may take several days or weeks to digitize the items so Digital Initiatives would have to borrow your items for an extender period of time.


If Digital Initiatives has planned a ScanDay with a library in your area, consider attending to get your items digitized and donated.

ScanDay is an event hosted with or in libraries across the state, in which Digital Initiatives staff from the ND State Library bring scanning and photography equipment to a community and digitize photographs, documents, objects, etc. from the collections of local institutions and private citizens. After digitization, the items are returned and each participant is given a flash drive containing digital copies of their items.

Consult the ScanDay page to learn more.


If your items have already been digitized, they would qualify for the Virtual ScanDay program and can easily be submitted electronically to the ND State Library. Digital Initiatives will work with you to set up a transfer of your digital files.

Consult the Virtual ScanDay page to learn more.

Fill the Gaps

Additionally, the ND State Library needs your help to fill the gaps in its digital collections!

Some of our digital collections are missing content from certain counties in North Dakota. Consult the link below to see the list of collections and counties. If a county is missing content in a collection, it will have "N/A" listed.