IFLA Newspaper Conference: James Simon - Center for Research Libraries

The title of the presentation is “Cooperative Digitization and Dissemination of World Newspapers: A Proposal.” James is from the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), which is an association of institutions dedicated to preservation of content for use by academics. CRL has a fair number of historic newspapers, and about 25 million pages of newspaper content are distributed through library loan every year, constituting about 75% of the distribution. The limiting nature of physical library loan does not apply to digital formats, so it’s exciting.

There is a huge corpus of historical newspaper data, spanning four centuries. Microform is most commonly used for long term preservation, but are crappy at providing discovery and use. Unfortunately, less-developed regions are unlikely to see their content digitized any time soon.

The International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) products, funded by NEH funding, includes a database of international newspapers, coordination of cooperative preservation microfilming efforts, and coordination of centralized and distributed cataloging.

The World News Archive (“as Icarus flying towards the sun, we have boldy called it…”) is attempting to digitize and make available newspapers from around the world, to the extent of the funding and energy available. The scope is currently “deliberately vague” because they are still in planning. Their long-long-term vision is for a fully-comprehensive newspaper repository. The CRL will accept world-wide standards, whenver those become determined. (I don’t think that top-down standards are the right way to do this. Use individual standards with semantic mapping as appropriate.)

The balance between not-for-profit, scholarly interests and for-profit, commercial interests is very important to a successful repository. CRL would take care of clearing copy rights for digital use. Ownership must obtain an escrow copy, with future rights to “any and all use” of the content once some term expires. Transparency in the rights process is key to ensuring that the system works - they don’t want any crazy digital rights restrictions schemes. Finally, right to pricing - who prices and to whom for how much - is important as well.