Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Providing OA to pre-1975 govt tech reports

From a post to the SLA-ENG list (thanks to STLQ):

In mid-November, the GWLA/CRL Federal Technical Reports Digitization Project Task Force issued a call for interest. The text of that announcement is copied below. For those of you who have already responded, we very much appreciate your interest. For others of you who have been intending to respond soon or who are concerned they may miss the originally requested deadline, we want to make sure that you are given every opportunity to respond. Please send your response to the call for interest to Alice Trussell at by Friday, December 15, 2006. This is a week longer than the originally requested date....

Below is the original call for interest:

The Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) are collaborating on a pilot project to ascertain both the practicality of and impediments to digitizing and making openly available selected pre-1975 U.S. government agency technical reports....

There is a vast amount of potentially valuable information contained in hundreds of report series that is quite difficult to access due to limited distribution, format issues, and the cataloging practices (or lack thereof) associated with these types of materials at many institutions at the time these materials were published. Many libraries have no record of what was published in many tech report series or what series/reports are available at different institutions. Some institutions have, or are considering, withdrawing large portions of their paper technical reports collections, in part because they use up valuable shelf space and in part because they tend to get low use. But part of the reason for that low use is the lack of cataloging and/or other access options to that material. The results of this project would help remedy both of those issues for institutions worldwide.

As part of the pilot project, sample collections have been identified for digitization, one collection (the entire Monograph Series of the National Bureau of Standards) is currently being scanned, an appropriate metadata schema has been agreed upon, and an interface for searching collections is being created.

Assuming this project continues past the pilot (and there's every indication thus far that it will), it is anticipated that:
- the project will expand beyond GWLA and CRL member institutions;
- the collections of scanned technical report series will be distributed across many institutions;
- the scanned reports will be stored in existing institutional repositories and searched collectively via the interface currently being designed.

Part of the charge of the task force coordinating the pilot project is to ascertain the interest among other institutions in the various facets of this project. So, with that in mind, please reply to this message with answers to the following questions.

1--Is this kind of project of interest or value to your institution? From your library's (and its users') perspective, is this a worthwhile project?

2--If this kind of project is worthwhile, what content (or set of reports) would you like to see digitized first? (list up to three series)

3--Do you see your institution as being interested in being involved in this project in the future?

At this point we're only trying to gauge interest from institutions. We're not looking for any sort of commitment at this time. For those institutions that DO indicate an interest in this project, we will contact you after the pilot project and provide you with a copy of the metadata schema, a sample report (so you can view the quality of the scans), and access an alpha version of the user interface that will search the collections of reports. At that time, we will also ask in what way your institution wishes to participate in this project. Possible forms of participation include:

- donation of local collections for scanning
- scanning content locally
- acting as a repository for the electronic (or print) content of one or more report series

If your institution might be or definitely is interested in this project, please also supply us with contact information (name and e-mail address) for the most appropriate person or persons at your institution to contact about this project in the future....