The following is an excerpt from a Program Update by Christa Williford, with contributions from Amy Lucko and Jena Winberry, Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
This spring, CLIR is launching an exploratory research and consultation process through which we will reconsider the issue of digitization of rare and unique collections. We have reached a point in our program’s history where a shift in focus can help deepen our understanding of how the cultural heritage professions can support the creation of new knowledge. For this reason, CLIR and the Mellon Foundation have decided that the 2014 cycle of the Hidden Collections program, as currently configured, will be its last. We at CLIR, in cooperation with program staff at the Mellon Foundation, will instead turn our attention to envisioning new ways to promote innovative, efficient, and deeply collaborative approaches to creating access to otherwise hidden collections of scholarly value.
The input of our constituents will be invaluable in informing our next steps. We are keenly interested in hearing your thoughts about the place of digitization among your institution’s priorities. It would be particularly helpful to have responses to the following:
- What level of intellectual control over a collection is necessary before you can plan a digitization project involving unique collections of high interest and usefulness to scholars? In other words, to what degree must a collection be “un-hidden” before you can digitize?
- What is “cutting edge” or “innovative” when it comes to the digitization of cultural heritage collections?
- What measures for cost-effectiveness and sustainability make an investment in digitization worthwhile?
- What might be the value of cooperative/coordinated approaches to digitization of rare and unique materials? How can institutions work together to create broader and easier access to scholars, students, and the general public?
We welcome public comments at re:Thinking or HCComments@clir.org. We will continue to share our thoughts with the community via follow-up posts that document our discoveries and reflections as we continue our investigation.