access barriers…will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.”6 The most creative uses of our shared cultural heritage can only occur, however, if the public has the ability to access and use public domain source materials without onerous permissions processes or the imposition of fees. Therefore, in the spirit of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, all non-commercial users should have “a free, irrevocable, worldwide, right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.”7 If fees are to be assessed for the use of digitized public domain works, those fees should only apply to commercial uses. Cornell University Library recently lifted all restrictions on the use of its public domain reproductions.8 Building Digital Communities As we move to digitize special collections on a massive scale, we should not ignore the broader ecosystem of the Internet that incorporates social networking in the use of content, as exemplified by Wikipedia and Flickr Commons. Providing effective digital access to the treasures of research libraries will require us to appreciate—and accommodate—digital communities. Research libraries have the opportunity to build community around content, to build content around community, and to provide a home for digital creators. Several examples illustrate these points. is a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Web site provides a gateway to the millions of genealogical records that the church has gathered and made available, increasingly online. In early 2006, provided an online tool for volunteers to index digital images of vital records. In April 2009, a major milestone was reached when the 250-millionth record was indexed by one of the over 100,000 volunteers from around the world. Each record is actually indexed by two individuals for accuracy, with discrepancies checked by a third person. Currently, reports that volunteers are indexing over a million names per day.9 Mass digitization requires mass metadata creation and, by building digital communities around content, the work is being done quickly. RLI 267 25 The Collaborative Imperative: Special Collections in the Digital Age ( C O N T I N U E D ) DECEMBER 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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