Friday, 18 July 2008

Scan and Deliver

If you're interested in digitization initiatives check out this 11 July article in Information World Review.

The thrust is the problems in the UK of getting copyright clearance and of orphan works. That's different in the UK and Canada owing to difference in copyright legislation, although orphan works remain a difficulty, one that the new Canadian copyright legislation tabled in Parliament just before the summer notably fails to address.

However, it was this paragraph on the scope of British digitization initiatives that especially attracted my attention.

The British Library has digitisation projects going on all fronts: 19th century newspapers, archive sound recordings, manuscripts from Central Asia (as part of the International Dunhuang Project) and UK theses for the Ethos e-thesis service. With its mass digitisation of 19th century English literature nearing completion, the British Library faces some tough decisions about what to digitise next. Three of its projects are funded by JISC, which is supporting 16 digitisation schemes in the UK to the tune of £10m. Sound, moving pictures, newspapers, census data, journals and parliamentary papers are all in the process of digitisation.

I read this shortly after a reader bulletin from the British Library arrived announcing "the largest programme of moves we have undertaken since the opening of St Pancras in 1998."

Tacked on to the end of the bulletin was the Q/A

Is the planned closure of Colindale, the current site of the newspaper collections, and the transfer of these collections part of the Collection Moves programme?

Yes. To improve the storage conditions and therefore the lifespan of the newspaper collection, the hard copy collections will be moving to Boston Spa. Microfilm will be stored and available at St Pancras.

This seems to imply that a copy of every newspaper being moved will be available on microfilm at St Pancras. Let's hope that's the case, both for the preservation of the collection and convenience of the researcher. Having got them on microfilm they shouldn't stop but continue on to make them available online showing others the way.

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