Pasadena City College’s Certificate in Digitization Skills for Libraries and Cultural Heritage Institutions

Pasadena City College’s Certificate in Digitization Skills for Libraries and Cultural Heritage Institutions

by Nancy Steinmann

I’m very happy to report that I just received a paraprofessional level certificate in digitization skills for libraries and cultural heritage institutions from Pasadena City College (PCC) in Pasadena, California. I began this program in August 2012, in addition to my SJSU MLIS degree classes, in order to obtain hands-on digitization training. I’m proud to say I was a member of the first cohort to pass this certificate!

The PCC program is almost unique in the United States. While other junior colleges offer library tech programs, few offer programs specializing in digitization. The program, taken as a cohort, consists of five courses. It’s designed and managed very well, and it is taught face-to-face at PCC. Our instructors were knowledgeable archivists and librarians. We learned how to select materials to digitize; how to select digitization equipment; various metadata standards such as Encoded Archival Description (EAD), basic and extended Dublin Core, and the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS); and quality control standards. For the duration of  the program, we scanned documents (both private and from the Pasadena City Library) using Epson V600 and Epson 10000 scanners, and we entered metadata for the images into CONTENTdm digital asset management (DAM) and Past Perfect DAM software.

It was great fun working with the archival materials; some of my fellow classmates had lovely old family photographs, letters, and other documents that they shared. We were allowed to decide if we wanted to put our personal materials project online. Mine consisted of photos and other materials documenting the life of my sister who just passed away, which I originally made available online for my family and her friends. However, you can view the collection too.

To my delight, I was also allowed to teach a session on basic XML to my class, and I have been asked to return to teach it again to next year’s cohort. The class was well received and helped students better understand the EAD standard taught in the module.

The program taught us project management skills even though it is at a paraprofessional level. Our instructor, Linda Stewart, told us that in small institutions where no one else has sufficient expertise, digitization paraprofessionals are often called upon to design projects and manage digitization programs, so we had best be prepared!

For the internship component, the PCC staff matched students to internships from a pool of institutions, or accepted suggestions for internships from institutions where students already work. Many students interned at libraries or archives; two were invited to intern at the world-famous Huntington Library in Pasadena. For my internship, I worked for Special Collections and Archives in California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Oviatt Library digitizing 100 year old materials (using a Bookeye 3 scanner) from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, including books, pamphlets, charts, and maps. I used Adobe Bridge to compile the scans into Adobe PDF files, which will be used as access images in CSUN’s online exhibit of their California Waters Collection. I also entered metadata for the objects into CONTENTdm DAM software. I had a great time working with the staff there!

The classes at PCC were great fun, and the cohort of students was very friendly and dedicated. The knowledge I gained from the program has served me in good stead in my SJSU MLIS classes and my other internships. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone in the Los Angeles area.  Hands-on training and work experience are so important when being considered for library and archives positions that an opportunity like this was a real treasure.



Nancy Steinmann is a SJSU SLIS MLIS student specializing in the management, digitization, and preservation of cultural heritage and records (archival studies and records management) career track. She is a former Vice Chair and Events Coordinator of the SJSU Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (2012-2013). She is also a former programmer/analyst, and a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer in .NET (2003). Nancy is halfway through her MLIS program.