The University of Florida Libraries joined the HathiTrust Digital Library to expand digital access to orphan works, as announced July 14, 2011. As of July 19, 2011, the Orphan works list from the University of Michigan is now live. Much of the news on HathiTrust is focused on access to the digitized materials. That’s important and great work, but the orphan works list and clearing rights to make them accessible is enormously important work. Even if HathiTrust was only using the digitized materials as part of the components to power the orphan works list, it would be an excellent use of resources.
Libraries and cultural heritage institutions are always working to find new ways to enable access to more materials for more people. Melissa Levine, the University of Michigan’s lead copyright officer, succinctly explains the importance of the orphan works list and processing done by partners in HathiTrust, stating: “Sharing these orphan works, once we’ve diligently searched for copyright holders, is integral to the mission of the Library.”From Levine’s sentence, the Library could be the University of Michigan Library of the Library as an ideal and concept. Her statement is true for both.
Developing the orphan works list as a step towards great access is essential and exemplary work. I’m thrilled to read each new press release on new members signing up to support HathiTrust’s work on access to orphan works, and proud to be with an institution that has already done so.