Does She or Doesn’t She?make or buy? Ann Okerson ICOLC Montreal April 2007
Make – of course • These commercial collections are expensive!! • $100K range; $200K range; annual access fees • By making them ourselves, we can: • Choose what is digitized with reference to academic rather than commercial priorities • We can do it the way we think best • Meet academic demands (maybe) • We paid for the digital content: • We own it; we (sort of) control it • We can give it away to the world • We can keep material alive forever • Commercial firms may come and go
Yes – of course (2) • Libraries are good collaborators • ILL, union catalogs, various projects • Libraries are altruistic • Libraries deserve to have the value of their collections and contributions acknowledged • We could earn some income (Amazon, collaborative projects with presses, societies)
Hold the Wedding! • Costs are high • Equipment, its rapid obsolescence • Work space, a scarce commodity • Staff, even scarcer • Storage (JPEG2000 images are huge) • Libraries not funded to “make” or “lose” money • Significant development effort (standards, ingestion, discovery/access, metadata, long-term preservation) – all this is in earliest stages • Libraries don’t easily work at industrial scale production levels • Cooperative collections development a weakness
Hold the Wedding! (2) • Lots of decisions and compromises (i.e., project overhead): • Scheduling • Shipping • Preservation • Selection, best copy • Standards • Foreign languages, illustrations • OCR? • Technology, and so much more • The more partners, the longer it all takes
Hold the Wedding! (3) • Rights • To whom do we give them? • How not to be commercially exploited • Incentives: what’s in it for the partners? Do we know? • Feel good? • Support humanistic scholarship? • Do we even have the right arguments? • We need to understand these things in order to define “success” criteria and we don’t.
Hold the Wedding! (4) • No single library holds all the materials; coordination is difficult and costly • Hard to avoid large-scale duplication • Unwarranted trust in technology (just “put it up and readers can cross search everything”) • Unfathomable long-term obligations • Whom do we serve? The world? Or? • Our readers, especially our faculty, want the material now. “We’re a research university; we should be able to afford this! We don’t want to wait 5 years or 10 years.”
Lost Opportunity Costs? • If we do this (large digitizing project), we are committing resources and energy to an activity which *in some form* the commercial sector is willing to do for us • Unless participants are very rich and well-staffed, the time and energy of doing the digitizing is going to eat into the time (if only management time) needed to focus on the other issues • So first we should ask what value do we add by doing this work, and then ask what it is we are not doing as a result • Perhaps the value is at the point of interface between user and resource, and the library value-add can be in the quality control, search function, interoperability? Or where is it?
Compromises? • Pool our funds and assign dedicated staff to accomplish these large tasks? • Partner with the commercial sector (Text Creation Partnership, Google, MS) • With all of the many downsides, of course • Do both • Buy large collections – those who can afford • Digitize – those who can do it • Make sure we articulate our goals clearly so that we make effective deals • Don’t criticize the choices of other libraries or consortia; don’t moralize