Digitisation from start to finish – A day in the life of a library assistant


How do articles appear on WebCat? The mystery is about to be unravelled. I work at the Avenue Library, when asked what I do,  I simply say I’m a Library assistant – however, as I’ve been asked to do a blog on the part of my job as a digitiser, I will give you the longer  version. At the beginning of semesters 1 & 2 I can spend 80% of my time working on digitisation requests that come from lecturers. Last year our small group of devoted library assistants completed over 500 requests. Luckily we receive welcome interruptions from our students & staff, or it would be like disappearing down the rabbit hole of the all-consuming digitisation world, where accuracy is paramount!

So what exactly does a digitisation request entail?

There are actually 3 main processes; checking for eligibility, pre-scan and post. All our digitisation requests come from liaising with the Humanity tutors via email or in person, being a small campus we offer a personal service which is very rewarding.  They provide us with articles or key chapters that they want their students to be able to access, which we then prepare for digitisation. Students then access these articles by logging into WebCat on or off campus.  Once we receive tutor requests for an article (hopefully not 2 days before term starts) we need then to establish if the articles are eligible for digitisation…


The article must fulfil certain criteria to conform to our licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency. (CLA)

The extract must be from the latest edition.

The article must have publishing permission.

The article must be less than 5% of a book or no more than a chapter


Once initial checks are complete, we create a catalogue record for the item for our records

Then we create the cover sheet for the article, which we send to the LDU (Library Digitisation Unit) and they scan the article from a book, journal or ILL request, (ILL requests are ordered from the British Library, if we don’t hold the article at Southampton).

Post scan to WebCat

Once scanning is completed we add the link to WebCat so the students can access the item.

We amend the library catalogue to reflect the electronic and reserve status of the item for our records.

We also record the article details on Packtracker, the records management tool for the CLA.

Finally : We email our happy tutors to tell them their article is now on WebCat

Well if you have managed to follow how an article gets from tutor request, to student resource, then I can return to all the other happy interactions that involve running a front line personal service to all our lovely Humanity students and staff.

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