Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More on the OCA project with Boston-area libraries

For OCA's New Partners, Scan Plan Is a Commitment of Dollars and "Sense", Library Journal Academic Newswire, October 4, 2007.  Excerpt:

Brewster Kahle can be an effective speaker, no question about it —so effective, in fact, that when he pitched the Open Content Alliance (OCA) at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) meeting in 2005, shortly after its inception, librarians in the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) were hooked. "Barbara Preece (BLC), Maura Marx (Boston Public Library), and I saw Brewster's presentation at CNI," Brinley Franklin, vice provost for university libraries at the University of Connecticut (UConn), told the LJ Academic Newswire. "We were immediately interested in the concept."

That concept is now being put into practice as part of a sweeping plan unveiled last week by the BLC to scan millions of pages of public domain materials in its collections in conjunction with the OCA. "In total, I believe the BLC has pledged almost $500,000 a year for two years," Franklin said, augmented by financial support offered by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has granted BLC funding to host "a summit on open access." Doron Weber, program officer at the Sloan Foundation, has also vowed "continued support in light of our recent commitment to the OCA," Franklin added.

UConn, where library budgets have remained flat in recent years, has pledged both staff and capital. The library will invest $50,000 a year for two years toward the scanning. "This is slightly less than one percent of our collections budget, which will be our funding source," Franklin said. In addition, this fall UConn will hire a full-time "digital projects librarian" as well as reallocate several existing staff, mostly from collections services, to support digitization efforts. Franklin said David Lowe, UConn's digital preservation librarian, will serve on the BLC/OCA Implementation Team, and will lead the project at UConn....

UConn joins 18 other institutions in the BLC, as pioneers of sorts. It is the first large consortium to embark on a self-funded project with the Open Content Alliance. In all, members plan to scan at least ten million pages over two years, one million pages of which are set to come from UConn, as well as major collections such as the Boston Public Library's John Adams collection; documents from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which includes collections from Harvard; the Marine Biological Laboratory; and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Most importantly, all of the scans, Franklin stressed, will be open, accessible from any browser, downloadable, and usable, unlike competing commercial plans, which place proprietary restrictions on their scans. Franklin said UConn is committed not only financially but in principle to the OCA's efforts to keep the public domain restriction-free, a policy that seeks to ensure a vibrant role for libraries. "The library staff at UConn was unanimous in its endorsement of unrestricted access to materials we digitize," Franklin says. "We are ready to turn down funding from companies that restrict searching digital collections through their proprietary search engine."

PS:  For more on the UConn participation in the project, see the October 1 story in the UConn weekly newspaper.