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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Creating Digital Collections

Digital collections platforms allow scholars to create new works in the form of online collections, archives, digital museum exhibits, multimedia-rich books and more. This guide provides a comparison of several popular open source options for creating dig

Example Collections

About the Example Collections

Gina Bastone researched, curated, and developed the content for this exhibit. It was originally developed on and its current home is in a Spotlight exhibit on the UT Libraries Exhibits site. The Scalar and CollectionBuilder-GH example exhibits were created by Allyssa Guzman to showcase various open-source options for creating digital collections. Any typos, errors, broken links, or bizarre formatting were introduced by Allyssa when she created the copies of the original exhibit.

The skills needed for each type of software described below are meant only as a basic guide. Everyone learns differently and so we're tried to avoid characterizing skills as easy or hard. All three of these tools have detailed documentation.

Skills required:

Using a web interface, filling out a metadata form, uploading files


Not required, but helpful:

Working with CSV


Cost: free to $1,000/year

File storage: 500mb on free plan

Themes/customization: 2 themes on free plan



+Quick to learn

+Good tools for collaborating with others on a project

-Limited themes and customization options

-Limited widget options

-More advanced options require higher subscription costs


Skills required:

Using a web interface, filling out a metadata form, uploading files


Not required, but helpful:

Working with CSV, hosting files on the internet


Cost: Free 

File storage: up to 2MB per file

Themes/customization: Only one theme, customization requires coding/markdown skills



+Easy to collaborate with others

+Advanced peer editing tools

+Widget options- timeline, image carousel, map, and more

-Limited theme customization options

-Can only upload files of up to 2mb


Skills required:

Using GitHub, working with CSV, metadata basics


Not required, but helpful:

HTML/CSS, Markdown, Jekyll sites (you can use the instructions to configure a basic site without an in-depth knowledge of these skills, but they help with advanced customization)


Cost: Free

File storage: Up to 1GB

Themes/customization: About 20 built-in options, plus any additional customization you want to add yourself



+Site is modular, so easy to move your data in and out of the site

+High potential for customization

+Collections as data option allows others to export data for reuse

-More skills required to get started

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.