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Digital Initiatives: Virtual ScanDay

Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library


Virtual ScanDay image


Have you ever wanted to digitize your family collections but never started? There is no time like the present!

Take advantage of any extra time you may have to chip away at your personal archive. While you’re at it, consider helping to build, share, and preserve state history by donating some of your digital items to the ND State Library for inclusion in North Dakota Memories, which is a collection consisting of images, documents, and objects that have been digitized from the collections of institutions and residents (and former residents) throughout the state. The items in the collection are freely accessible to all researchers online via Digital Horizons and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

What is Virtual ScanDay?

Virtual ScanDay

Typically, items are contributed to the North Dakota Memories collection through ScanDay, which is an event hosted in libraries across the state where the ND State Library’s Digital Initiatives team brings scanning and photography equipment to a community to digitize photographs, documents, objects, etc.

But through Virtual ScanDay, items can be submitted to the ND State Library from anywhere by anyone (even if you do not live in the state anymore).

Virtual ScanDay is a spinoff program of ScanDay. It was started during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way for citizens and organizations to contribute copies of their items to the North Dakota Memories collection. It has since been made into an ongoing program/ service. The only caveat is (and this is the biggest difference from a traditional ScanDay) is that your items must be already digitized. For example, your items (like photographs) need to be in a digital format (like JPEG or TIFF) in order for them to be virtually submitted.

How to Submit

If you are interested in participating in the ND State Library’s Virtual ScanDay and would like to submit items, contact Digital Initiatives to set up a transfer of your digital files.

What to Submit?

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

  • As per the usual ScanDay guidelines, each participant should limit their number of submissions to 10-20.
  • It is highly recommended that these items be identifiable (meaning things like the people, location, and approximate time period are able to be determined).
  • It is preferred that items have some sort of a North Dakota connection.

Review the tabs in this section to learn more about the criteria for photographs (and other images), documents, objects, oral histories, and videos.

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 not any copyrights 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.

To give you even more ideas of what to submit, you can also browse the entire North Dakota Memories collection to see what others have contributed.

Consult this handout for additional information on what should or should not be submitted:


Images refers to photographs, negatives, slides, photographic postcards, etc. Consult the sections below for additional information.


It is preferred that photographs:

  • Be submitted as JPEGs or TIFFs
  • Have a resolution (DPI/ PPI) of 300-600
  • Have a minimum bit depth of 24-bits for color images and 8-bits for black & white images

Negatives & Slides

It is preferred that negatives & slides:

  • Be submitted as JPEGs or TIFFs
  • Negatives and slides will require high resolutions (compared to photographs). Consult the ND State Library's Digitization Standards for more information.

Postcards/ Photographic Postcards

It is preferred that postcards:

  • Be submitted as JPEGs or TIFFs
  • Have a resolution (DPI/ PPI) of 300-600
  • Have a minimum bit depth of 24-bits for color images and 8-bits for black & white images

Documents can include letters, diaries, booklets or pamphlets, certificates, histories, programs, etc.

It is preferred that documents:

  • Be submitted as PDFs, TIFFs, or JPEGs
    • PDF is the most preferred
  • Have a minimum resolution (DPI/ PPI) of 300

Objects can also be submitted (paintings, badges, medals, mugs, artworks, commemorative plates, awards/ plaques, etc.). These oversized items will likely not fit on a scanner, so they will have to be photographed.

Because objects will likely be photographed, it is preferred that they be:

  • Submitted as JPEGs or TIFFs
  • Photographed from multiple angles
  • Clear (as in not blurry)
Oral Histories

It is preferred that oral histories/ audio:

  • Be submitted as WAV or MP3
  • The content of oral histories is limitless. As a result, there are too many criteria to list. If you are interested in submitting an oral history to the North Dakota Memories collection, contact Digital Initiatives.
  • The content of videos is limitless. As a result, there are too many criteria to list. If you are interested in submitting a video to the North Dakota Memories collection, contact Digital Initiatives.
  • Videos come in a variety of formats, and the best practices and standards for video digitization widely differ. Thankfully, there are exceptional resources available online that can assist you with your video digitization needs. For more information, consult the link below.
  • Generally, formats like AVI, MP4, MPG, and WMV will be accepted.

What to Submit? Examples from the ND Memories collection

Terms & Conditions

  • All participants will be required to fill out a release and consent form, which grants the ND State Library permission to retain and preserve the materials for its digital collections, as well as permission to alter, copy, and reproduce the materials for research, educational use, publication, etc.  
  • Participants should be the rightful and legal owner of the materials that they submit. Participants should hold the copyright, or the materials should be in the public domain.
  • All participants should be at least 18 years or older.
  • The ND State Library reserves the right to reject content that it considers duplicative, inappropriate, or outside the scope of its digital collections. The ND State Library is not obligated to retain any submitted materials or preserve them in perpetuity.

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.