Australian Framework and Action Plan for Digital Heritage Collections

The Collections Council of Australia Ltd. has released Australian Framework and Action Plan for Digital Heritage Collections, Version 0.C3 for comment.

Here's an excerpt from the document:

This is the Collections Council of Australia's plan to prepare an Australian framework for digital heritage collections. It brings together information shared by people working in archives, galleries, libraries and museums at a Summit on Digital Collections held in 2006. It proposes an Action Plan to address issues shared by the Australian collections sector in relation to current and future management of digital heritage collections.

British Library Licenses Turning the Pages Toolkit

The British Library has announced that it is now licensing its Turning the Pages Toolkit to libraries and museums. You can see the software in action at their Turning the Pages Web site.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

From today, libraries around the World will be able to license the award-winning Turning the Pages software used by the British Library to bring some of the world’s most rare and valuable books online.

Since its launch in 2004, Turning the Pages has grown to become one of the most popular resources at the British Library, allowing the Library to bring iconic treasures such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks and Mercator’s Atlas of Europe online for everyone to see. With the launch of Turning the Pages 2.0, and a completely re-built software platform developed by Armadillo Systems, May 2007 also sees launch of a new "toolkit" that allows other libraries and museums around the World to create their own Turning the Pages gallery. . . .

Michael Stocking, Managing Director of Armadillo Systems and developer of the Turning the Pages software said "As well as making it easy for our customers to create their own collections, we also wanted to enhance the Turning the Pages experience. We have migrated the software to a new platform that places the book in a 3-D environment so, as well as being able to examine the book as a piece of text, users can now also examine it as an object. They can now look at the book from different angles, zoom in and even look at two books, side-by-side."

CLIR Receives Mellon Grant to Study Mass Digitization

According to a O’Reilly Radar posting, the Council on Library and Information Resources has been awarded a grant from the Mellon Foundation to study mass digitization efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from the posting that describes the grant’s objectives:

  1. Assess selected large scale digitization programs by exploring their efficacy and utility for conducting scholarship, in multiple fields or disciplines (humanities, sciences, etc.).
  2. Write and issue a report with findings and recommendations for improving the design of mass digitization projects.
  3. Create a Collegium that can serve in the long-term as an advisory group to mass digitization efforts, helping to assure and obtain the highest possible data quality and utility.
  4. Convene a series of meetings amongst scholars, libraries, publishers, and digitizing organizations to discuss ways of achieving these quality and design improvements.

The University of Maine and Two Public Libraries Adopt Emory’s Digitization Plan

Library Journal Academic Newswire reports that the University of Maine, the Toronto Public Library, and the Cincinnati Public Library will follow Emory University’s lead and digitize public domain works utilizing Kirtas scanners with print-on-demand copies being made available via BookSurge. (Also see the press release: "BookSurge, an Amazon Group, and Kirtas Collaborate to Preserve and Distribute Historic Archival Books.")

Source: "University of Maine, plus Toronto and Cincinnati Public Libraries Join Emory in Scan Alternative." Library Journal Academic Newswire, 21 June 2007.

CIC’s Digitization Contract with Google

Library Journal Academic Newswire has published a must-read article ("Questions Emerge as Terms of the CIC/Google Deal Become Public") about the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Google Book Search Library Project contract.

The article includes quotes from Peter Brantley, Digital Library Federation Executive Director, from his "Monetizing Libraries" posting about the contract (another must-read piece).

Here’s an excerpt from Brantley’s posting:

In other words—pretty much, unless Google ceases business operations, or there is a legal ruling or agreement with publishers that expressly permits these institutions (excepting Michigan and Wisconsin which have contracts of precedence) to receive digitized copies of In-Copyright material, it will be held in escrow until such time as it becomes public domain.

That could be a long wait. . . .

In an article early this year in The New Yorker, "Google’s Moon Shot," Jeffrey Toobin discusses possible outcomes of the antagonism this project has generated between Google and publishers. Paramount among them, in his mind, is a settlement. . . .

A settlement between Google and publishers would create a barrier to entry in part because the current litigation would not be resolved through court decision; any new entrant would be faced with the unresolved legal issues and required to re-enter the settlement process on their own terms. That, beyond the costs of mass digitization itself, is likely to deter almost any other actor in the market.

Google Library Project Adds Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)

The Google Book Search Library Project has an important new participant—the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). The CIC members are the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As many as 10 million volumes will be digitized from the collections of these major research libraries.

Here’s an excerpt from the CIC press release:

This partnership between our 12 member universities and Google is unprecedented. What makes this work so exciting is that we will literally open the pages of millions of books that have been assembled on our library shelves over more than a century. In literally seconds, we’ll be able browse across the content of thousands of volumes, searching for words or phrases, and making links across those texts that would have taken weeks or months or years of dedicated and scrupulous analysis. It is an extraordinary effort, blending the efforts and aspirations of librarians, university administrators, and scholars from across 12 world-class research universities. And our corporate partner possesses unparalleled expertise in creating and opening the digital world to coherent and comprehensive searching.

The effort is not entirely without controversy—no great undertaking ever is. But our universities believe strongly in the power of information to change the world, and in preserving, protecting and extending access to information. We have carefully weighed and considered the intellectual property issues and believe that our effort is firmly within the guidelines of current copyright law, while providing some flexibility as those laws are tested in the new digital environment in the coming years.

Stanford’s Copyright Renewal Database

Researching the copyright status of post-1922 works in the US can be difficult, and this has been a barrier to digitization efforts. The Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources have released a new copyright research tool that promises to make this process easier called the Copyright Renewal Database.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

An online database that enables people to search copyright-renewal records for books published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 has been launched by Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR).

SULAIR developed the Copyright Renewal Database, dubbed the "Copyright Determinator," with a grant from the Hewlett Foundation. The effort built on Project Gutenberg’s transcriptions of the Catalog of Copyright Entries, which was published by the U.S. Copyright Office. . . .

Determining the copyright status of books has become a pressing issue as libraries and businesses develop plans to digitize materials and make works in the public domain widely available. In order to appropriately select books for digitization, these organizations need to determine efficiently and with some certainty the copyright status of each work in a large collection. The Determinator supports this process, bringing all 1923-1963 book-renewal records together in a single database and, more significantly, making searchable renewal records that had previously been distributed only in print.

U.S. works published from 1923 to 1963 are the only group of works for which renewal is now a concern. Renewals have expired for works published before 1923, and they are generally in the public domain. The 1976 Copyright Act made renewal automatic for works published after Jan. 1, 1964. Determining the renewal status of works published between 1923 and 1963 has been a challenge; the Copyright Office received renewals as early as 1950, but only records received by that office after 1977 are available in electronic form. Renewals received between 1950 and 1977 were announced and distributed only in a semi-annual print publication. For the Determinator databases, Stanford has converted the print records to machine-readable form and combined them with the electronic renewal records from the Copyright Office.

A Long Road Ahead for Digitization

The New York Times published an article today ("History, Digitized (and Abridged)") that examines the progress that has been made in digitization in the US. It doesn’t hold many surprises for those in the know, but it might be useful in orienting non-specialists to some of the challenges involved, especially those who think that everything is online on the Internet.

It also has some interesting tidbits, including a chart that shows the holdings of different types of materials in the National Archives and how many items have been digitized for each type.

It has some current cost data from the Library of Congress quoted below:

At the Library of Congress, for example, despite continuing and ambitious digitization efforts, perhaps only 10 percent of the 132 million objects held will be digitized in the foreseeable future. For one thing, costs are prohibitive. Scanning alone on smaller items ranges from $6 to $9 for a 35-millimeter slide, to $7 to $11 a page for presidential papers, to $12 to $25 for poster-size pieces.

It also discusses the copyright laws that apply to sound materials and their impact on digitization efforts:

When it comes to sound recordings, copyright law can introduce additional complications. Recordings made before 1972 are protected under state rather than federal laws, and under a provision of the 1976 Copyright Act, may be entitled to protection under state law until 2067. Also, an additional copyright restriction often applies to the underlying musical composition.

A study published in 2005 by the Library of Congress and the Council on Library and Information Resources found that some 84 percent of historical sound recordings spanning jazz, blues, gospel, country and classical music in the United States, and made from 1890 to 1964, have become virtually inaccessible.

An interesting, well-written article that’s worth a read.

Source: Hafner, Katie. "History, Digitized (and Abridged)." The New York Times, 11 March 2007, BU YT 1, 8-9.

Princeton Joins Google Book Search Library Project

The Princeton University Library has announced that it has joined the Google Book Search Library Project.

From the press release:

A new partnership between the Princeton University Library and Google soon will make approximately 1 million books in Princeton’s collection available online in a searchable format.

In a move designed to open Princeton’s vast resources to a broad international audience, the library will work with Google over the next six years to digitize books that are in the public domain and no longer under copyright. . . .

"We will be working with Google in the next several months to choose the subject areas to be digitized and the timetable for the work," [Karin] Trainer said. "Library staff, faculty and students will be invited to suggest which parts of our distinctive collections should be digitized."

Princeton is the 12th institution to join the Google Books Library Project. Books available in the Google Book Search also include those from collections at Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, the University of California, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the New York Public Library, the University Complutense of Madrid and the National Library of Catalonia.

Google also announced the new partnership in its Inside Google Book Search blog.

Managing Digitization Activities, SPEC Kit 294

The Association of Research Libraries has published Managing Digitization Activities, SPEC Kit 294. The table of contents and executive summary are freely available.

Here are some highlights from the announcement:

This survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2006. Sixty-eight libraries (55%) responded to the survey, of which all but two (97%) reported having engaged in digitization activities. Only one respondent reported having begun digitization activities prior to 1992; five other pioneers followed in 1992. From 1994 through 1998 there was a steady increase in the number of libraries beginning digital initiatives; 30 joined the pioneers at the rate of three to six a year. There was a spike of activity at the turn of the millennium that reached a high in 2000, when nine libraries began digital projects. Subsequently, new start-ups have slowed, with only an additional one to five libraries beginning digitization activities each year.

The primary factor that influenced the start up of digitization activities was the availability of grant funding (39 responses or 59%). Other factors that influenced the commencement of these activities were the addition of new staff with related skills (50%), staff receiving training (44%), the decision to use digitization as a preservation option (42%), and the availability of gift monies (29%). . . . .

Only four libraries reported that their digitization activities are solely ongoing functions; the great majority (60 or 91%) reported that their digitization efforts are a combination of ongoing library functions and discrete, finite projects.

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