19.291 deep access

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2005 08:00:05 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 291.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2005 07:43:11 +0100
         From: "Mats Dahlström" <Mats.Dahlstrom_at_hb.se>
         Subject: deep access to digitised cultural heritage material

In his "Deep Sharing: A Case for the Federated Digital Library",
EDUCAUSE Review, 38(4) (July-August 2003), p 10-11,
<http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0348.pdf>, David Seaman
pleaded for repositories of digitised cultural heritage material,

"from which libraries can draw files into local collections for
innovative reuse and rearticulation as the needs of local users
dictate. (*) it would enable librarians and end-users alike to
download "digital master" files as malleable objects for local
recombinations, to be enriched with context from librarians or
teachers, crafted for specific audiences, and unified in appearance
and function. A user could download, combine, search, annotate, and
wrap the results into a seamless "digital library mix" for others to
experience. (- - -) [A]t present, all you can do is scrutinize that
data where it resides, in formats that the creator of the content
determined... [Y]ou can have a passive engagement with the content
but not an active one. You cannot combine those scattered objects
into something new, improved, and shaped for your local needs. (- -
-) Libraries create high-quality digital masters for long-term
preservation and reuse but then typically expose only one view of a f!
   ile to the user, in one particular search-and-display software
package. This serves one typ of need but underserves others..."

The benefits of such deep sharing and deep access are clear, yet we
have seen few such efforts from our large, digitising memory
institutions (such as archives and libraries). Why is that? I'm
thinking particularly of 'end-users' seeking digitised cultural
heritage material in the public domain, and to what degree they are
able to have access not only to delivery formats such as JPEGS or
(X)HTML, but to master files (be it image files in tiff etc., or
marked up text files in e.g. TEI) of such material, without having to
pay extra money for such access. It seems to be such possibilities
are scarce at the moment, most digitising memory institutions making
only passive display formats accessible to end-users (and a few
institutions charging users wanting access to the "heavy" master file
material). I understand there are both technical (bandwidth etc),
administrative (the quest for control or a tradition to charge for
costly colour reproductions) and, most importantly, legal reasons for
this: although the original material might be in the public domain,
the digitised versions of that material might be considered derivate
works deserving copyright protection. This latter argument strikes me
however as somewhat awkward. The digitised material, certainly when
we talk about image-based strategies, tries to mimic as far as
possible the original material - the greater the mimic correspondence
is, the better, and the more the digitised version will fulfill its
surrogate function and hopefully reduce the handling of the original
material. Still it is to be regarded as a new (derivate) work of its own...

Anyway, I would be most grateful for any pointers to collections of
digitised cultural heritage material where users actually have free
and deep access to "master files" with little or no restrictions as
to the re-use of such material for e.g. scholarly purposes.

Yours sincerely, Mats Dahlstrom
Swedish School of Library and Information Studies
Received on Mon Sep 26 2005 - 03:13:09 EDT

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