Pursue Digital Access

1. Aggressively pursue broad digital access to international information resources


The behavior and expressed preferences of our students and scholars reveal increasing eagerness for digital access to information. Not only do users anticipate that the resources they seek will be available in electronic formats, but they are ever less likely to seek out information that is not readily accessible online. A corollary is that knowledge and scholarship in digital form creates and accelerates its own demand: easy mechanisms for discovery and access lead to expanded usage and citations, reinforcing future use. While these attributes of digital resources today apply primarily to English-language resources—which comprise the bulk of the electronic universe now at our users’ disposal—enhanced digital access will similarly extend the reach and impact of non- English materials. Digital resources, finally, are by their nature accessible without regard to time and space. Students and scholars throughout the world, including in the countries that produced materials now held only in U.S. libraries, will benefit from access to resources that would otherwise remain out of reach. Digital technologies can also overcome the conundrum of unique materials that are consequently at risk, whatever their location, for want of surrogates that ensure back-ups as they also facilitate access.


Proposed Areas for Action

  • Build a comprehensive, shared collection of public domain digital resources from around the world, engaging scholars and information experts from all fields and regions.
  • Inventory and link current digital projects, identifying and actively addressing gaps in coverage.
  • Work with publishers, vendors, and other partners to provide new resources in digital formats – whether born-digital or analog conversions – and including licensing terms and conditions that support resource sharing.
  • Encourage scholars, worldwide, to deposit and/or digitize their own research materials and results in Open Access repositories.
  • Explore new acquisitions mechanisms (for example “Catch & Release” collection development) to expand digital offerings, non-custodial archiving, and retention of scarce or unique patrimonial resources in their places of origin.
  • Create and promulgate model agreements for international digitization partnerships.
  • Work with national libraries, publishers, scholarly groups, and other appropriate agencies to resolve issues of intellectual property related to access and preservation.

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