Mass Digitization: Implications for Preserving the Scholarly Record

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2008-01

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Hahn, Trudi Bellardo (2008). Mass digitization: Implications for preserving the scholarly record. Library Resources & Technical Services, 52(1), 18-26.

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Libraries and archives have a critical role in preserving the scholarly record; many players in the publication cycle depend on them for this. Preservation of scholarly books that are being digitized has lagged far behind preservation initiatives for electronic journals. The issue has become more critical, as large commercial companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have begun mass digitization of millions of books in research libraries. Since December 2004, the pace of developments has been rapid, involving great risks on Google’s part over the copyright issue. Google and certain participating libraries have not addressed the issue of whether or not all this effort to digitize huge numbers of books indiscriminately will serve students’ and scholars’ needs in the long run. Quality, secrecy, and long-term stability are all issues that suggest it may be foolish to expect that commercial companies will share librarians’ values and commitment to digitized material preservation. The information profession must exert strong leadership in setting policies, standards, and best practices for long-term preservation of the scholarly record.

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