Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Keeping Collections Open: The Boston Library Consortium and the Open Content Alliance Join Forces

Keeping Collections Open: The Boston Library Consortium and the Open Content Alliance Join Forces

Speakers: Maura Marx, Digital Services Manager, Boston Public Library

Cathy Norton, Director, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

Barbara Preece, Executive Director, Boston Library Consortium, Inc.

Wednesday 2:45-4:00

Here are a couple of links on the Boston Library Consortium

And a couple of links to the Open Content Alliance

I also included a link to BHL

and the Internet Archive: Biodiversity Heritage Library

Open Content Alliance—OCA

Why OCA? Why not Google or Microsoft? Barbara Preece drank from the proverbial koolaid.

OCA means:

Bibliographic Accuracy

Ability to repurpose/reuse as needed

Free to All

Internet Archive Scanning Experience would only cost .10 a page

EasyAccess and storage files

Life time management of files

Serve up files or download them

Boston Public Library and Open Content Alliance (BPL and OCA)

Maura Marx

“Free to All”

What did this decision look like for one organization, especially a public research institution? The iconic frieze carved over the McKim building in Copley Square says “Free to All,” the motto which dictated in the decision to join OCA. Google, Microsoft and Thomson Gale were banging on the door of the BPL to get them to digitize their collection. It was difficult to get information on the digitization project. What would it mean to force users to use one search engine to have access to collections? What would it mean if a single commercial entity controls access to the content of the world’s libraries?

Deep soul searching by the Boston Public Library found that:

Digital is preferred access format

BPL has the technology skills and expertise to perform work

Commercial vendors may monetize this at some point, but have access

Detailed comparison really pounded the mission statement “Free to All”

Reality Check—colleagues who were working with Google—like feeding a fire brigade. Working with Google was like working a on schedule with commercial interest with a library that didn’t have staff to work on this.

Openness wins. BPL took root and set-up scanning center in house using scanners.

Funding for BPL came from the Sloan Foundation, responsible for funding many open access ventures.

$170,000—Sloan Foundation @3000, @750 total

Regular upload to and LibraryThing (

Great for John Adams scholarship—ability to research like never before

GOV Docs next big project $250,000 came from Kahle/Austen foundation

Big call for participation to help scan—massive project.

Entire 60 million pages of government documents to be scanned

Cost $6M to scan BPL’s collection of government documents

Scanning project led to scanning of other projects—a lot of genealogy, a lot of history, and some literature based on circulation numbers. BPL gathered an implementation team

Cathy Norton—Encyclopedia of Life, Biodiversity Heritage Library

E.O. Wilson wanted to create an encyclopedia of every living being on earth—free and authoritative

Create these single websites for every known species—BHL raised $50M dollars—Got money from Sloan foundation (interested in open source)

BHL has 10 libraries including the BHL.

BHL Mission: Provide open access to biodiversity literature

Publish core literature and put it on the web for all users around the world

Use internet archive Biodiversity domain that will digitize

over 5.4 million books dating back to 1469

800,000 monographs

40,000 journal titles

50% pre 1923

Taxonomists and other scientists will have access to biodiversity literature globally

Provide developing world with access to historical literature

Scientists working in many biological domains will get access

The advantages quickly became obvious; there is less space needed for library collections

Now key partner in encyclopedia of life

Scribe scanners installed at Natural History Museum in London, NYC and in Boston

Citation upsurge

Long term management of the digital assets is provided by BHL at no cost

Content will be integrated into EOL project through TI nomenclatural linking.

BHL is also developing a strategy to employ taxonomic intelligence scientific text parsing as part of their digitization initiative. The digitization of the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections are made available through a global “biodiversity commons.” The digitized texts are being archived here:

Here are a few more links for reference

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