Shared Digital Access and Preservation Strategies for Serials at the Center for Research Libraries

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    Shared Digital Access and PreservationStrategies for Serials at the Center forResearch LibrariesBernard F. Reilly a & James Simon aa Center for Research Libraries , Chicago, Illinois, USAPublished online: 28 Sep 2010.

    To cite this article: Bernard F. Reilly & James Simon (2010) Shared Digital Access and PreservationStrategies for Serials at the Center for Research Libraries, The Serials Librarian: From the PrintedPage to the Digital Age, 59:3-4, 271-280, DOI: 10.1080/03615261003619060

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  • The Serials Librarian, 59:271280, 2010Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0361-526X print/1541-1095 onlineDOI: 10.1080/03615261003619060

    SERIALS COLLECTION MANAGEMENT INRECESSIONARY TIMES: PART 2

    Edited by Karen Lawson

    Shared Digital Access and PreservationStrategies for Serials at the Center

    for Research Libraries

    BERNARD F. REILLY and JAMES SIMONCenter for Research Libraries, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    The Center for Research Libraries and its members have engagedin several strategic programs in recent years to provide persistentaccess to electronic versions of its historical collections, particularlyserials. One of these programs is the World Newspaper Archive, apartnership of CRL member institutions and Readex, a division ofNewsBank. Through the World Newspaper Archive program, CRLprovides its members robust access to historical newspaper content,federates the costs of this large-scale undertaking, and provides forcommunity control over content, archiving provisions, and futurecollections.

    KEYWORDS newspaper digitization, Latin American news-papers, collaborative digitization

    INTRODUCTION

    The World Newspaper Archive (WNA), a collaborative effort of the Centerfor Research Libraries and its partner institutions, preserves and providespersistent electronic access to historical newspapers from around the globe.The effort grew out of increased interest among electronic publishers in digi-tizing newspaper collections from world regions held by major U.S. researchlibraries. Financial and in-kind support from CRL member institutions helpedlaunch the program in 2008.

    Address correspondence to Bernard F. Reilly, President, Center for Research Libraries,6050 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60637-2885, USA. E-mail: breilly@crl.edu

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  • 272 B. F. Reilly and J. Simon

    BACKGROUND

    Through a century of sustained investment in acquisition, documentation,and preservation, North American research libraries have amassed a largeand valuable corpus of newspapers from all regions of the world. Thoselibraries aggregate holdings of newspapers in paper and micro-formats con-stitute a body of historical and cultural evidence spanning four centuries,which is not, and could not be, replicated elsewhere.

    While preservation of global newspapers on microform has enjoyedsupport in the United States and elsewhere, until recently few effortsexisted to convert these resources to electronic format. The National DigitalNewspaper Program, the flagship effort in the United States, addresses onlyU.S. newspaper content and is still early in its implementation. Institutionsin Europe and other developed nations have begun efforts to convert theirown historical contents, but the scale of these efforts is daunting.

    In 2005 several major U.S. research libraries reported being approachedby electronic publishers proposing to digitize their holdings of newspapersfrom Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and other worldregions. A number of those libraries chose to explore the possibility oforganizing collectively rather than making individual arrangements with thepublishers. These libraries believed that by acting together, they could exerta stronger hand in dealing with the aggregators, and that the benefits of theundertaking might also accrue to the broader library community.

    The CRL was asked by its members to organize this collective effort.CRL has traditionally focused its cooperative preservation efforts on worldregions with less robust library and preservation infrastructure. Since 1956CRL has been microfilming news titles from Africa, Eastern Europe, LatinAmerica, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia. In addition, CRLhas served as the organizational umbrella for more than a dozen cooperativecollecting and preservation programs, providing communications, logisticaland financial management, and operational support.

    In 2006, CRL developed and issued a request for information (RFI) fora World Newspaper Archive, outlining the general goals and parametersof the digitization effort for publishers. CRL framed the effort not merelyas a digitization project, but as a means to ensure persistent digital accessto an extensive and important body of primary source materials under theaegis of the research libraries community. Encouraged by the response fromthe publishing community, CRL then issued a formal request for proposals(RFP) to identify the optimum partner for the program. NewsBank Inc.,parent company of Readex, was chosen as the organization that broughtthe greatest combination of past performance, technical capabilities, andcontent-area priorities to the endeavor.

    In June 2008, the World Newspaper Archive effort was launched toundertake the systematic, large-scale digitization of world newspapers and

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    news-related materials held by CRL and its participating libraries. The WNAwill be an ongoing, multiyear, and multistage endeavor wherein CRL andaffiliates combine expertise and resources to digitize and make availablefor scholarly use newspaper holdings from various world regions. The firstphase of the effort involves content from Latin America, starting initiallywith material in the public domain and extending the effort over a numberof phases. Details of the effort are currently found on the CRL website at:www.crl.edu/collaborative-digitization/world-newspaper-archive

    GOALS

    The World Newspaper Archive project has three major goals:

    1. Community Access. Readex, a division of NewsBank, will provide elec-tronic access to back files of newspapers from microform and paperholdings of CRL and several major newspaper repositories. Contributingrepositories for the first phase include Harvard University, the New YorkPublic Library, University of Florida, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington,University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, LosAngeles. The World Newspaper Archive will employ the robust andreliable search and discovery platform used by Readexs major news-paper databases: Early American Newspapers and Hispanic AmericanNewspapers. The annual access fee will be nominal for CRL members andpartner libraries that have contributed support and/or content to createthe collection.

    2. Persistence. CRL will ensure the long-term persistence and continuedfunctionality of the news content for its community, as well as CRL mem-ber control over the future costs and quality of that access. CRL will retainmicroform copies of all newspapers in the WNA, and Readex will providefor the archiving of the digital files generated by the project in a mannerapproved by CRL. Moreover, the process of locating and preparing thesematerials for digitization is generating valuable preservation metadata andinformation a