“But just as the Web increased people’s access to information exponentially, an opposite trend has evolved. Global media corporations—emboldened by the expansive copyright laws they helped craft and the emerging technology that reaches right into our reading devices—are exerting absolute control over digital information. These two conflicting forces—towards unfettered availability and completely walled access to information—have defined the last 25 years of the Internet. How we handle this ongoing clash will define our civic discourse in the next 25 years. If we fail to forge the right path, publishers’ business models could eliminate one of the great tools for democratizing society: our independent libraries.
These are not small mom-and-pop publishers: a handful of publishers dominate all books sales and distribution including trade books, ebooks, and text books. Right now, these corporate publishers are squeezing libraries in ways that may render it impossible for any library to own digital texts in five years, let alone 25. Soon, librarians will be reduced to customer service reps for a Netflix-like rental catalog of bestsellers. If that comes to pass, you might as well replace your library card with a credit card. That’s what these billion-dollar-publishers are pushing.
The libraries I grew up with would buy books, preserve them, and lend them for free to their patrons. If my library did not have a particular book, then it would borrow a copy from another library for me. In the shift from print to digital, many commercial publishers are declaring each of these activities illegal: they refuse libraries the right to buy ebooks, preserve ebooks, or lend ebooks. They demand that libraries license ebooks for a limited time or for limited uses at exorbitant prices, and some publishers refuse to license audiobooks or ebooks to libraries at all, making those digital works unavailable to hundreds of millions of library patrons….”
This week, the Internet Archive is celebrating its 25th anniversary of its first crawl of the world-wide-web and its first snapshot of our collective digital lives. Since the first crawl, the scale of the Internet Archive’s collection was grown astoundingly. Its regular snapshots of the internet have grown to comprise some 588 billion web pages in total. So much flourishes on the internet; both the amazing and the frightening, the mundane and the radical. The Internet Archive preserves it all. While most know of its work capturing and preserving snapshots of the internet, the Internet Archive also preserves an amazing amount of our digital heritage. The Archive has digitized and archived more than 28 million books and texts, 14 million audio recordings, 6 million video recordings, 3.5 million images and more than a half million software programs.
“Meanwhile, Google had only just gone public with an IPO in 2004. That year, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Google announced its Publisher Program, which promised to support the same type of search functionality. Publishers willingly signed up, unaware that the Library Project would be announced two months later. The Library Project was ambitious, digitizing titles acquired for collections held at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and the New York Public Library. This was a breathtaking step farther than Amazon, and the information community was thunderstruck as it tried to process the implications of what such an expansion could mean.
This is the story that is told in Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization by Deana Marcum and Roger Schonfeld (full disclosure, Roger is a regular contributor to this blog). Note the subtitle. This book documents from a library perspective the implications and long-term impact of Google’s move to make a significant corpus of “offline content searchable online” through optimized means of scanning and digitization. The outcome of Google’s ambitious project would ultimately be diminished, due to constraints resulting from extended legal battles, but key library leadership has managed to create the infrastructure needed to sustain and carry on the massive digitization needed. There were significant barriers to that work, as the authors note, despite the fact that “in this story, there are many actors, all of good intentions. Inevitably, it is also a story of limitations and failures to collaborate.” …”
“The University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce the launch of the Georgia Open History Library on Oct. 15, 2021. The Georgia Open History Library (GOHL) is an open-access library of nearly fifty digital editions of single-authored scholarly titles and two multivolume series, as well as primary documents going back to the founding of Georgia as a colony up to statehood and beyond.
GOHL includes studies of Adams and Jefferson; the American Revolution in Georgia; the Creek Nation; the papers of Revolutionary War general Lachlan McIntosh and the colony’s visionary founder James Edward Oglethorpe; and records of the German-speaking Protestant Salzburger settlement. The titles also focus on how Georgia navigated its relationship with Indigenous peoples, other colonies, international diplomacy, as well as its place in a new nation.
Selected by a statewide advisory board of Georgia historians, the volumes in the GOHL constitute the most fulsome portrait of early Georgia and its inhabitants—European, Indigenous, and diasporic African—available from primary sources. Of particular importance are the colonial records of the state of Georgia and what are widely regarded as the essential supplements to those records: the journals and/or letters of the Earl of Egmont, Peter Gordon, and Henry Newton, as well as the two publications of General James Edward Oglethorpe’s own writings. The Press commissioned new forewords written by contemporary historians that add important current scholarly context to each volume….”
“The Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the U.S. Government Publishing Office, has digitized 287 volumes of the United States Congressional Serial Set and made them available on the Library’s website.
The release is part of a decade-long partnership to digitize more than 15,000 volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set — the reports and documents of the House and Senate, including proposed legislation, committee reports and issues under investigation — dating back to the first volume published in 1817. The Law Library and GPO began this multi-year digitization effort two years ago….”
“We are very excited today to announce the release of the Library Futures Foundation’s (LFF) new policy document “Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential.” As outlined, controlled digital lending maximizes a library’s ability to loan works, thereby making the entire loaning system more efficient and equitable.
Library Futures Foundation developed this document in consultation with the Intellectual Property and Information Policy (iPIP) Clinic at Georgetown Law. This concise policy document covers all the benefits, innovations, and goals that are the basis of any controlled digital lending system. It expands beyond the legal rationale laid out in the Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) White Paper by clarifying the core principles that are the foundations of a library’s mission to provide access to materials to serve the public good. …”
“Controlled digital lending works exactly as the name implies: it is a controlled, digital form of the traditional library lending system. Under CDL, libraries generally lend digitized versions of print materials from their collections, strictly limiting them to a single digital copy per physical copy owned—a one-to-one “owned-to-loaned” ratio. If a library owns two physical copies of The Giving Tree, it only loans out two copies at any time, whether physically or digitally. This maintains the same limits as traditional book lending but enables access digitally. Digital access is especially important for those who live or work far from their closest library or whose work, childcare, or school schedules make physical access during business hours challenging. Communities rely on libraries to serve as a hub for education and knowledge. CDL (1) drives economic efficiency by maximizing returns on tax dollars, (2) expands reliable and equitable education, (3) promotes civil rights for marginalized communities, and (4) improves access through digitization. Congress should support their communities by empowering libraries to serve as a meaningful access point for these publicly funded collections by: ? Supporting legislation that codifies the practice of CDL by libraries.2 ? Encouraging funding through grant programs and other incentives to facilitate CDL. ? Promoting the development of a federal, centralized set of digital materials for use in CDL programs….”
“The University of Massachusetts Amherst has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to supporting and advancing open scholarship with policy, guidelines, and investments in staffing, infrastructure, and scholarly content. In 2011 UMass Amherst signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Subsequently, the Faculty Senate endorsed an institutional Open Access Policywhich went into effect on July 1, 2016. On behalf of the University, the Libraries implemented and manages an institutional repository, ScholarWorks, a platform for open access articles, books, conference proceedings, data, journals, podcasts, and more. Materials from the Special Collections and University Archives have been digitized and made openly available through Credo.The University and its Libraries provide financial support for open access publishing fees and open educational resource development. The Framework Principles for Provider Agreements guides a shift of the Libraries’ investments to those that are consistent with University’s and the Libraries’ mission and values to advance education and knowledge through open access and the widest possible use, reuse, analysis, discovery, curation, and preservation of scholarship. Libraries’ staff include specialists in archives, copyright, data management, open education, and scholarly communication, among many others. They are deeply engaged with campus faculty, researchers, editors, and reviewers to provide open access to research outputs and to develop open scholarship principles and practices. The University’s commitment extends further to its involvement with policy advocacy and education organizations such as Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI), Library Publishing Coalition, Open Education Network, and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).”
“When the pandemic hit, the UC Berkeley Library was quick to adapt, and course reserves made the leap to 100 percent digital. The newly minted electronic reserves, or e-reserves, program was born of the need to meet students where they were during the pandemic: That is, everywhere.
And now, the Library is making it last. This semester, the program will continue to connect students with free online versions of their course materials — articles, books, and videos — even as classes, slated to be in person, start to edge toward normalcy. Through the program, the Library is plucking one more worry off students’ plates and providing a much-needed dose of financial relief as the pandemic wears on….”
“Eight institutions (and nine projects) are recipients of the ninth set of service grants awarded in a program intended to broaden partner participation in the DLG and engage with diverse institutions across the state of Georgia. The DLG solicited proposals for historic digitization projects in a statewide call, and applicants submitted proposals for projects with a cost of up to $7,500.00. In addition, DLG staff will provide free digitization, metadata, and hosting services so that users can find more of Georgia’s diverse history online for free. This subgranting program was presented the 2018 Award for Excellence in Archival Program Development by a State Institution by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC).”
“The Library of Congress and Harvard Law School have initiated an unprecedented, multifaceted joint collaboration to identify, select and assess the copyright status of materials focusing on national legal gazettes.
The effort, initially set for three years, will coordinate access to, knowledge-sharing, and legal analysis of Library of Congress’ collections related to Islamic law, including national legal gazettes, manuscripts and other materials. It will also improve a reader or researcher’s ability to search those sources, using new data science tools and faceted searches tailored to Islamic collections. The joint objective is to expand scholarly analysis of and greater public access to relevant legal materials….”
“The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, has added 200,000 digitized pages of historic Florida newspapers to the freely available in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library (FDNL). The project, “Making Florida Newspaper Collections Accessible,” was completed with $53,040 in Library Services and Technology Act funding from the State Library and Archives of Florida as part of the 2020-21 funding cycle. Utilizing newspapers microfilmed by the University of Florida, the project team migrated the newspapers to a more accessible and preservable digital format….”
“The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to announce the implementation of the Universal Viewer for examining the thousands of digitized texts on the Digital Collections web site. Universal Viewer is an open-source community-supported software developed by Digirati for the Wellcome Library and the British Library.
The NLM Digital Repository Working Group selected Universal Viewer after an in-depth software evaluation. Universal Viewer fits easily with the existing applications Digital Collections uses to present high-quality page images through the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), Loris image server and Blacklight discovery layer….”
“The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida received a grant award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to expand newspaper digitization efforts and continue participating in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). This is the fifth NDNP award the Libraries have received since 2013, bringing the combined project total to nearly $1.5 million.
The recent NEH award will fund the Ethnic Florida & US Caribbean Region Digital Newspaper Project, which will run until August 2023, building on work from previous project phases. During the eight-year period from 2013 to 2021, more than 400,000 pages of historical newspapers published in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were digitized and made publicly available online….”