Home > Digitisation > Apply to digitise

Apply to digitise

Digitisation projects involve a number of distinct phases. Different stakeholders are involved at various points in the process, and a range of factors must be considered, for example, funding, copyright, metadata, IT infrastructure, scheduling, and web design.

We will assist you with planning your project and determining what digitisation resources you will require.

Phases of digitisation





Select the items to be digitised and/or archived.
See: What we digitise.



Verify and secure copyright clearance.
See: UCT Research Contracts and Innovation (RCI).



Compile the relevant metadata.

See: UCT metadata entry guidelines.



Fill in the relevant online form(s):

A member of DLS staff will review your request and contact you.



Transfer the selected items to us.
See File Naming Conventions for Digital Collections.



Items are digitised, transcoded, edited and versioned.
See Digitisation standards.

Digital Library Services


Metadata records are enhanced.
See: Metadata types and functions.

UCT Libraries


Digital objects are ingested into safe storage.
See: Digital preservation.

UCT Libraries


Access and dissemination.
Eg: UCT Libraries Digital Collections

UCT Libraries

Do UCT Libraries charge for digitisation services?

Yes, please see 2017 charges for digitisation below. Pricing digitisation services is aligned with the eResearch billing-based model, which is a means of applying service-catalogue or pricing-catalogue charges to virtual machines, high-performance computing, cloud services, static storage and consultancy services. Discounted rates apply to UCT affiliated students and staff. Payment is required in advance.


How do I submit a digitisation request?

Electronically complete and email us the relevant forms. Please contact us if you need further support.

We are working on implementing a paperless service for submitting digitisation requests to UCT Libraries Special Collections.

How long does it take for requests to be processed?

Time frames differ depending on the size of the request and the current workload at Digital Library Services (DLS).

The information you provide when submitting your request will help us give you an estimated time frame for completion. DLS staff can assist you with planning the activities in the Phases of digitisation, and will help with determining the required resources.


You are responsible for determining any copyright restrictions, gaining permission to digitise, and providing copyright terms for the access and dissemination of the digitised collection prior to undertaking a digitisation project.

When determining copyright measures, consider the following questions:

  • Who holds the copyright to the material?
    In general, the original creator holds the copyright, but material is often donated or gifted to another person or institution and the donor agreement will indicate if rights have been transferred.

  • Can I gain permission to digitise the material?
    Every effort must be made to locate and contact the copyright holder(s) and to gain permission to digitise the material. Furthermore, you must gain permission to make the material openly accessible via the chosen repository. It is important to gain all necessary permissions before undertaking any digitisation project. A written agreement should be stored along with the digitised content.

  • Is the material in the public domain?
    According to the South African Copyright Act no.98 of 1978, material generally enters the public domain 50 years after the death of the creator (although there are exceptions). Thereafter, the material can generally be digitised without copyright infringement if every effort has been made to ensure that the material is definitely, according to copyright law, in the public domain.

If you are unsure whether the material is protected by copyright, you can visit Research Contracts and Intellectual Property Services for further assistance. More information on Intellectual Property in the digital world.

Can I use the equipment at DLS to digitise materials myself?

We offer basic training in operating some of our digitisation equipment and encourage self-service, especially for small-scale projects that do not need to be digitised to an archival standard.