Friday, October 09, 2015

Questions to ask when you learn of digitization projects

Questions to ask when you learn of digitization projects. Sarah Werner. Wynken de Worde. 6 October 2015.
    With new digitization projects that we hear about it may be helpful to ask some questions:
  1. Who financially benefits from such agreements? Sometimes researchers forget that the primary commercial digitization projects "isn’t to enable access to cultural heritage materials but to make money. And cultural heritage institutions have not always prioritized open access to their collections over monetizing them, either."
  2. Who is going to have access to the resulting images? In commercial projects the results "are typically limited to institutions who can pay to subscribe to the commercial database". 
  3. Who is not going to have access to the images? It is important to realize who will be excluded from such projects.  
  4. What will you be able to do with the resulting images? "Most commercial databases retain copyright over their digitized products and do not license them beyond personal use".
  5. How will this impact the ability of researchers to access the original documents? "If you are a holding institution that will be restricting access to your newly digitized collection, will you help fund scholars to come use your database if their institution doesn’t subscribe to it?"
Without knowing these kinds of details we won't know if these enterprises are "good or bad things". The projects can be expensive, and balancing the access and the cost can be complicated. "But researchers and librarians should ask themselves this list of questions before cheerleading announcements." How will we support institutions in order to "create high quality digitizations without selling our cultural heritage to the highest bidder?"

No comments: