Press Release: ARL Promotes Member Use of Large-Scale Digitization Principles

Press Release:

For immediate release: August 4, 2010
For more information, contact:
Karla Strieb
Association of Research Libraries

ARL Promotes Member Use of Large-Scale Digitization Principles

Washington DC— The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors unanimously voted on July 26, 2010, to endorse a set of nine principles to guide vendor/publisher relations in large-scale digitization projects of special collections materials, recommended by its Transforming Special Collections in the Digital Age Working Group. The Board’s vote strongly encourages ARL member libraries to refrain from signing future agreements with publishers or vendors, either individually or through consortia, that do not adhere to the principles.
The ARL Board recognizes that research libraries are increasingly finding that large-scale digitization of special collections materials involves partnerships with commercial vendors and publishers, and that those partnerships should be governed by principles that protect special collections materials and promote the broadest possible access to digital versions of them.
Special collections often include valuable and unique materials, but also incur special responsibilities for their stewards. Digital access to special collections materials has become important in revealing hidden materials and promoting humanities research, and ARL member libraries often require appropriate collaborations and partnerships to implement large-scale digitization activities.
The nine principles address issues including implications of the distinctive character of special collections, the need for libraries to retain their own copies of the products of digitization projects, the importance of promoting broad access to digitized collections, and concerns regarding the collection of data about users of digitized collections.
“I am thrilled that the ARL Board has endorsed these principles, which encourage research libraries and archives to provide digital access to special collections while safeguarding institutional interests and promoting broad public access,” said Anne R. Kenney, Chair of the Working Group. “At Cornell, we plan to draw on the framework to improve many terms in our negotiations with vendors, including to shorten embargo periods on all our digitized collections to five years or less.”
To view these principles, please visit: