Digital Services

Introduction to Digital Services

Empire State Discovery Collaborative (Empire ADC)

Empire State Immersive Experiences (ESIE)

New York Heritage (NYH)

- Digital and Traveling Exhibits

- Request a traveling exhibit!

New York State Historic Newspapers




Introduction to Digital Services

Through the Empire State Library Network, WNYLRC is involved with multiple technology initiatives. All Governing members are eligible to participate. Please contact WNYLRC for more information.

  • Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative (Empire ADC) - a platform that houses electronic archival description finding aids (EADs).
  • Empire State Immersive Experiences (ESIE)  - Member libraries are able to experiement with augmented reality through participation in ESIE.  Members can contributecontent for educational andinstructional purposes.
  • New York Heritage (NYH) - WNYLRC's original repository of digital collections was Western New York Legacy. In 2011, that website was merged with the websites of digital collections from six other library councils, to form New York Heritage.
  • New York State Historic Newspapers (NYSHN) - Newspapers that were originally part of New York Heritage were later moved to their own site, forming New York State Historic Newspapers.

Digital Services Participation

Many of WNYLRC's digital collections are funded through the Regional Bibliographic Data Bases and Interlibrary Resources Sharing Program (RBDB) that is awarded to the Western New York Library Resources Council by the New York State Education Department. These digital collections are loaded onto the New York Heritage, New York State Historic Newspapers,  Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative, or Empire State Immersive Experiences platform.

Libraries wishing to add a collection to New York Heritage or New York State Historic Newspapers outside of an RBDB grant still need to complete an Application and Copyright and Use Agreement. These should be sent to Sheryl Knab at The documents will be reviewed by WNYLRC's Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) at their next quarterly meeting. Upon approval, the WNYLRC digitization project manager will work with the library to set up the collection.



Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative

The Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative (or Empire ADC) is a central repository for searching and browsing collection descriptions, called “finding aids,” contributed by New York State's many cultural heritage organizations. The finding aids in Empire ADC adhere to national standards, namely the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard and Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS). Empire ADC seeks to enhance access to New York State’s finding aids and discovery of the materials they describe through a shared technical framework and community of practice.Empire ADC is a service of the Empire State Library Network.Contact the Digital Services Coordinator for more information - Heidi Ziemer at


Empire State Immersive Experiences

To assist our members in creating quality immersive experiences for students, community members or researchers, ESIE provides a platform to host 360-degree images that can be enhanced using hotspots that include value-added information through text boxes, URL links, images, documents, audio file and video files.  Once the images have been uploaded, the member can go in later and develop value-added information to the images. This content can be used as a virtual reality teaching tool focused on locations, landmarks and objects in New York State. These images in turn are shared throughout the rest of New York State for other educators and researchers to use and develop custom applications. Members uploading content agree to the Creative Commons licensing.


New York Heritage


WNYLRC welcomes and encourages contributions to New York Heritage from any member institution with material that will help document the rich history of Western New York. Contributors should read the following information to ensure that their project proposal is successful.

New York Heritage is a collaborative project among New York State’s nine Reference and Research Library Resources Councils (NY3Rs): Capital District Library Council; Central New York Library Resources Council; Long Island Library Resources Council; METRO-Metropolitan New York Library Council; Northern New York Library Network; Rochester Regional Library Council; South Central Regional Library Council; Southeastern New York Library Resources Council; and Western New York Library Resources Council.

The NY3Rs, funded by New York State, work with their member institutions (libraries, archives, museums and historical societies) to digitize original research materials and make those materials available for free on the Internet.  The Councils are continually adding new collections to and actively seek collections to expand the site.

New York Heritage utilizes CONTENTdm software with a site-license purchased by WNYLRC from OCLC; this site license is shared by WNYLRC, Capital District Library Council, Central New York Library Resources Council, Northern New York Library Network, Rochester Regional Library Council, and South Central Regional Library Council.

Interested in including your collection in New York Heritage?

WNYLRC members wishing to include collections in New York Heritage should consult the WNYLRC Regional Digitization Plan March 15, 2006, and its supporting documents. These documents detail guidelines and requirements for metadata, scanning and imaging standards, workflow procedures, and other related information.

At the present time, there is no software-related cost associated for WNYLRC members using WNYLRC’s CONTENTdm license ( to host their collections. There may be a nominal fee associated with participation in the future, which would cover software maintenance and hosting fees. Any future fees assessed will be based upon WNYLRC budgetary considerations and will be fully communicated to WNYLRC members.

The WNYLRC member library or organization is responsible for digitizing the proposed collection, including selecting the collection, scanning and retouching the images, and describing the items/assigning metadata. Additionally, the WNYLRC member is responsible for funding, staffing, and equipment needed to work with the CONTENTdm software. The software allows participants to upload their collection into New York Heritage.

WNYLRC also allows members to utilize the digitization lab at WNYLRC’s headquarters free of charge. The lab consists of a computer with the CONTENTdm software and a scanner – the Microtek Scanmaker 1000XL Pro. Arrangements can be made to use the equipment by calling Heidi Ziemer at (716) 633-0705 x114.

Repository Purpose

New York Heritage was created to provide a freely accessible digital repository of materials to the general public to support the study of New York and its history.

Partners and Cooperation with Other Institutions

The Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC) facilitates cross-institutional cooperation and encourages collaborative projects with its member libraries and library systems. New York Heritage establishes the potential for collaboration among diverse institutions. These institutions are encouraged to contribute materials in topic areas not currently represented in New York Heritage or materials that enhance or complement existing collections. WNYLRC strives to bring non-members with potential collections under the umbrella of WNYLRC by encouraging membership in WNYLRC as a key component of the collaboration. Membership in WNYLRC not only provides opportunities to take part in New York Heritage but also affords opportunities in training, support, education, grants, and other professional development resources.

Description of Audience

While the materials in New York Heritage are available to anyone visiting the site, the primary focus of the program is geared to New York audiences. The target audiences include:

  • Students and teachers of all levels
  • Scholars and researchers
  • State and federal government employees
  • Business community
  • Tourists and tourism agencies
  • Genealogist
  • Residents and former residents of NY

Repository Inclusion Criteria

Scope of Coverage

WNYLRC member content on New York Heritage reflects aspects of New York culture, history, natural history, character and economic conditions, as well as Western New York's contributions relative to New York State and U.S. history. Collections and materials selected for inclusion in New York Heritage reflect Western New York's history from colonial times to the present, its varied population, urban and rural experiences and divergent points of view.

Source of Materials

Although member library and library systems are the primary sources for digital collections, WNYLRC does not limit collections to members.  Items and collections housed by non-members may be included if some relationship can be established between the non-member and a WNYLRC member organization in a collaborative agreement. At least one contributor in a collaborative project must be a WNYLRC member.

Selection Criteria

Institutions supplying materials, not in the public domain must have the appropriate permissions to digitize and make the materials publicly available.  Digital collections and resources should support the educational, recreational, and scholarly needs of the people of Western New York and other researchers outside the region. Collections should not be so institution-specific that they have limited appeal to those outside the institution. Materials included in New York Heritage must conform to both technical and metadata standards established by work groups that oversee the development of New York Heritage. Material submitted to New York Heritage should not be freely available online through other sources as to avoid unnecessary duplication. Existing physical exhibits may be appropriate for digitization and development into an online collection as long as the exhibit's subject matter focuses on an aspect of Western New York history.

For a collection to be considered for inclusion in New York Heritage, the institution must submit a collection proposal to WNYLRC that will be reviewed and evaluated by a selection committee determined by WNYLRC. For additional information on the application process, please refer to the Western New York Regional Digitization Plan and the supporting documents listed on this page.

Preferred Subject Matter

Collections to be digitized may include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following subject matter:

  • Erie Canal
  • Agriculture
  • Art and architecture
  • Corporate history
  • Erie Canal
  • Ethnic groups
  • Events or topics unique to Western New York
  • Erie Canal
  • Festivals
  • Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario)
  • Love Canal
  • Niagara Falls
  • Niagara Movement
  • Pan-American Exposition
  • Steel industry
  • Fine and performing arts
  • TheateroMusic
  • Dance
  • Art
  • Architecture
  • Historical figures
  • Historical records of educational and cultural institutions and local businesses
  • History
  • Civil rights
  • Civil War
  • War of 1812
  • WW1
  • WW2
  • History of cities, towns and villages in WNY
  • Immigration
  • Industry
  • Natural history
  • News sources
  • Popular Culture
  • Records enhancing genealogical and family research
  • County, city, town and village records
  • Science and technology


Collections to be digitized may include but are not limited to the following formats:
  • artifacts
  • business ledgers
  • directories
  • letters & diaries
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • monographs (published and unpublished)
  • newspapers & newsletters
  • photographs
  • postcards
  • posters
  • scrapbooks
  • sheet music
  • sound recordings (musical and non-musical)
  • transcriptions
  • works of art

 Duplication of Materials

Collections that explicitly duplicate the materials that already exist in New York Heritage will not be approved for inclusion. Digital objects should be created from the best copy of the original or the cleanest copy of microform available. Materials that are freely available online from another source may also be excluded from New York Heritage. It is at the sole discretion of WNYLRC and its selection committee and/or work groups to allow duplicate materials to be included in New York Heritage.

Use and Removal of Content

Proper Use of Materials Guidelines

Items included in New York Heritage are made freely available online in order to enhance and contribute to scholarly and educational research and are therefore subject to Fair Use provisions. Fair Use includes making reproductions for education, research, and private study, with credit being given to the source of the material. Fair Use does not include making reproductions for commercial gain. Items may not be used for commercial gain unless prior permission is granted by the owner or steward of the collection or item.

Ownership Statement

Neither New York Heritage nor WNYLRC claims ownership of the digital objects included in Ownership remains with the originating site and/or participating institution. Note that the collections included in New York Heritage are developed for educational and scholarly purposes. Those who wish to use any item included in New York Heritage for commercial purposes must contact the originating site. A rights statement is included with each item in each collection.

Responsibility for the accuracy of data, facts, and information presented rests with the institution providing the digital resource or contributing to scholarship included in the site. WNYLRC does not guarantee or certify the accuracy of any information on the New York Heritage site. WNYLRC asks that each participating institution collect information regarding the accuracy of the content they supply to New York Heritage and follow a policy for the review and revision of collections.

Removal and Copyright Adherence Policy

Collections or items may be removed from New York Heritage for one or more of the following:

  • Inaccurate content or metadata
  • Violation of copyright or ownership
  • Content is no longer free to the public

WNYLRC will take action to correct any infringements and/or remove collections or items that infringe on copyright. Parties with copyright concerns regarding collections or items on New York Heritage may contact WNYLRC directly at:
Airport Commerce Park East
4950 Genesee Street, Suite 170
Cheektowaga, NY 14225
(716) 633-0705

New York Heritage Copyright and Use Agreement

For each collection that is accepted for inclusion in New York Heritage, there must be a guarantee from the participating institution that absolves WNYLRC of any liability regarding copyright. The participating institution must complete the New York Heritage Copyright and Use Agreement before grant funds are dispersed or before digital assets are loaded into

Best Practices

Metadata Guidelines

New York Heritage contributors are required to use the New York Heritage Metadata Template. This template is under council-wide development, and the most current version of the New York Heritage Metadata Template will be posted on this page. Required fields for WNYLRC members are in yellow. (However, due to specifics of each collection, some tweaking of the basic New York Heritage Metadata Template by the Digital Services Librarian may be required prior to beginning your project.) Please request all metadata template changes during the planning phase of the project.

Institutions should pay particular attention to the Rights metadata field, which is a required field. Each institution should develop a rights statement for each collection, and in some cases for each item (if different items carry different rights). Collections without a rights statement for each item will not be made available to the public.

Please review the New York Heritage Metadata Template and contact the Digital Services Librarian BEFORE you begin your digitization project. If you are outsourcing the digitization and/or metadata, consult with your vendor regarding any metadata fields that they will be adding. Many vendors have default templates that are very different from the New York Heritage Metadata Template. All changes to the metadata template, including renaming or adding fields, should be coordinated with the Digital Services Librarian at WNYLRC in advance of the collection being created in New York Heritage.

Scanning and Image Storage Standards

We recommend that participants follow the standards and best practices set forth under the New York Heritage Digitization Guidelines, which were based in part on BCR's CDP Digital Imaging Best Practices.

Each participating institution is required to maintain archival copies of their own master images and metadata. Minimally, New York Heritage participants should adhere to the following standards for master images:

Creation of Master Images

Storage of Master Images*

  • master TIFF images may be stored on CDs or DVDs
  • master TIFF images may also be stored on external hard drives, system drives, or servers, at the discretion of the institution
  • it is recommended that master TIFF images be stored redundantly and off-site, meaning that more than one copy of each image exists and that at least one copy is stored off-site from the institution in case of emergency or disaster

*WNYLRC will soon be looking into the issue of Digital Repositories, and more fully exploring the issues surrounding storage, maintenance, and migration of digital images and data. As more information becomes available, recommendations for storage may change based on WNYLRC's findings. All New York Heritage participants will be informed of any changes in the recommendations.

File Formats for Use in CONTENTdm

CONTENTdm will accept the following file formats; however, please consult with WNYLRC as to the most appropriate format for each item type (example: photographs, books, audio recordings, etc.):

  • GIF for images
  • JPEG for images
  • JPEG2000 for images
  • MPEG for video
  • MP3 for audio
  • PDF for text
  • TIFF for images
  • TXT for transcripts

Technology Specifications

Please check that your computer meets the following requirements:

  • Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.5 or higher (or Internet connection for downloading .NET 3.5)
  • Microsoft® Windows XP with SP2 or SP3 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit or 64-bit, or Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit. For sites processing large volumes of files, 64-bit operating system is recommended
  • Windows XP: 512 MB RAM minimum; 1 GB RAM recommended. Windows Vista and Windows 7: 1 GB RAM minimum; 2 GB RAM recommended. For sites processing large volumes of files, 4 GB RAM is recommended
  • 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation (a portion of this disk space will be freed after installation if the original download package is removed from the hard drive)
  • Minimum display resolution of 1024 × 768
  • 256Kbps or faster connection
  • Adobe® Reader 8 or later

Catalog Records

Each institution should catalog the digital collection that they contribute to New York Heritage with one bibliographic record describing the collection. If an institution does not have the means to create and upload a catalog record to OCLC/WorldCat, the University at Buffalo has offered to do so for the institution.

Project Guides

If you have questions about a digitization project that you or your institution would like to pursue, please contact Heidi Ziemer with the details of your proposed project. She is available to advise members on best practices, materials selection, preferred formats and will assist with any aspect of the project as needed. Please be aware that certain materials may not be good candidates for digitization, such as acetate microfilm. These documents may assist you with project planning and materials selection:

How to recognize acetate microfilm (courtesy of Joan Dashiell, Backstage Library Works)

 Adding Content to New York Heritage Tutorial


Digital and Traveling Exhibits

The physical traveling exhibitsImmigration in New York, 1650-1950; 200 Years on the Erie Canal; Recognizing Women's Right to Vote in New York State; and Making Sense of the Census in New York are all available for free, one-month loans periods for your library!
These make great resources to enrich speaker programs, library displays, classroom learning, and more!
In addition, these four physical exhibits each have a companion, online exhibit, accessible on the New York Heritage website: the addition of another online exhibit, primarily focusing on what is referred to as the period of Reconstruction: Albion Tourgee, from Civil War to Civil Rights: Documenting an American Dialogue on Humanity, Equality, and Justice (no physical exhibit). 
We hope you will find these resources useful in the coming year to engage patrons in an exploration of New York State's history through primary sources. Here are short summaries of each exhibit:
Ellis Island Building, New York

Immigrants built a vibrant, diverse, and modern New York State.  However, the arrival of European immigrants was also incredibly disruptive.  Our history bears those imprints, as well as many more positive outcomes.  Immigrants have come to New York for many reasons: to escape persecution, to improve their economic outlook, and to build new lives.  This exhibit focuses on historic immigration to New York State from 1650 to 1950.  Our story begins with the arrival of Dutch settlers and continues through the end of the World Wars.

Recognizing Women's Right to Vote in New York State

This exhibit charts the development and evolution of the Women's Suffrage movement in New York State. Early suffragists drew inspiration from native cultures and learned activism from other movements. As their movement coalesced,  activists began practicing civil disobedience. Suffragists trumpeted their cause through a variety of media. Along the way, they faced divisive issues of race and strident opposition from male and female anti-suffragists. World War I demonstrated the importance of women's contributions outside of the domestic sphere. Women in New York State won the right to vote through a November 6, 1917, referendum.  


Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is one of the most famous man-made bodies of water in the world. Designed, financed, built, operated, and maintained by the people of New York, the canal was one of the largest public works projects ever attempted anywhere in the world when the first shovel of earth was turned near Rome, New York, on July 4, 1817. Men with talent and vision (but little training in engineering) charted the 363-mile course of the canal between Albany and Buffalo. They designed stone aqueducts to carry boats across rivers and locks to lift them over New York’s varied terrain. Thousands of laborers dug the ditch itself and built massive reservoirs to ensure the canal was constantly supplied with water. When it was completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the port of New York City on the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes, dramatically transforming trade, industry, and communication in the region and across the country. The Erie Canal was so successful that it was enlarged three times to accommodate more traffic and increasingly larger vessels. Great cities and commerce grew along the Erie Canal. Diverse people traveled east and west across its length, some spreading powerful ideas for social change. In the mid-twentieth century, canal traffic began to decline, and the famous waterway momentarily faded from public use, only to reemerge today as a vehicle for heritage tourism, recreation, and education.

Making Sense of the Census in New York

The U.S. Census is the only comprehensive or "complete count" of the entire population of our country. It is the only source of data for insuring everyone has a voice in Congress. "Representative democracy" is the cornerstone on which this nation was founded, and the census is the tool used by the federal government to preserve equal representation. The qualitative aspects of this representation have historically been and is ever changing. Explore the history of the U.S. Census in this online exhibit. 

Heidi Ziemer


Request our traveling exhibits for display in your library!

**Requesting organizations are responsible picking up and returning the exhibits within the one month loan period.**

Erie Canal Bicentennial Exhibit

Women's Suffrage Centennial Exhibit

Making Sense of the Census Exhibit


Immigration in New York, 1650-1950





New York State Historic Newspapers

The NYS Historic Newspapers project provides free online access to a wide range of newspapers chosen to reflect New York's unique history. The website, uses the CHRONAM software platform developed by the Library of Congress Newspaper Project to provide immediate free access to millions of newspaper pages published in New York State.  Researchers may search by city, county, date, title, and full-text keywords.  Metadata includes MARC records, persistent URLs, consistent file names, ABBY OCR text files, and functional METS/ALTOS.

Libraries and cultural institutions are encouraged to submit their scanned historic newspapers for inclusion.  There are no hosting charges.

Scanned newspapers should meet the following minimum standards:

  • PDFs (preferred) or TIFF files, with each newspaper title, individually identified.
  • 300 dpi/black and white (higher resolutions and grey scale permitted)
  • Each page filed as: YYYYMMDD – p#

For example:
nowheresville-gazette-18590621 – 001.pdf
nowheresville-gazette-18590621 – 002.pdf
nowheresville-gazette-18590622 – 001.pdf
nowheresville-gazette-18590622 – 002.pdf

OCR files should be included should they be available.

Libraries that wish to have their newspaper microfilm digitized may do so by submitting it to the Northern New York Library Network Digitization Center.  The fee is $0.15 per page. Libraries that wish to load post-1923 newspapers should look into obtaining a release, which is available from the NNYLN.

Scanned, formatted newspaper files may be sent to:

NYS Historic Newspapers Project
6721 US HWY 11
Potsdam, NY 13676



Self-Guided Curriculum for Digitization

The Digital Public Library of Americal (DPLA) has collaborated with trainers at partner libraries to write and iterate a workshop curriculum based on documented best practices in digitization. This curriculum is available in a self-guided version intended for digitization beginners from a variety of cultural heritage institutions. Each module includes a video presentation, slides with notes in Powerpoint, and slides in PDF. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt these materials.


List of Vendors

A list of known vendors, used by contributors to New York Heritage and New York State Historic Newspapers can be found here. The listing of a vendor does not represent an endorsement of the service.