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Dimond Library Going Digital and Creating Its Own Repository

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 8, 2008

Before the advent of digitization, a researcher in California who wanted to read Durham town reports from the 18th century would have to travel to the Dimond Library to physically look at them. Now, all it takes is the click of a mouse.

About two years ago, the library began creating a digital collection to provide patrons ready access to unique material. The library’s local digital initiative was expanded through a partnership with the Open Content Alliance and the Boston Library Consortium, of which UNH is one of the 19 members.

“We send the items to the Boston Public Library, where the scanning center is set up,” says Sherry Vellucci, dean of the Dimond Library. “We send physical copies and they give us digital copies for our online collections and deposit a copy in the Internet Archive, which provides national and international exposure to our digitized materials.”

Presently the library is scanning works it already owns, such as the Durham town reports. It costs UNH about $50,000 a year to have the materials electronically archived. But it would cost more if not for the consortium.

“It’s important to have the support,” Vellucci says. “The consortium organized the project and put together the resources for the scanning operation.”

So far, UNH has scanned about 1,700 volumes and plans to scan another several thousand books during the next two years. The works are primarily New Hampshire history books, state documents, and university publications.

At the same time, the group is looking at the issue of open access to information in the public domain—that is, works that are no longer copyright protected. The concern is how to ensure, in this age of digitization, that works remain open to everyone and aren’t restricted by Internet companies that require the use of their own proprietary search engines, or may charge for access down the road.

That includes research done by faculty and students here at UNH. Currently their work is published in journals owned by companies like Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of scientific research.  UNH has to subscribe to the journals to have access to the research articles.

“It costs UNH a lot of money to access the research subsidized by UNH and the government,” Vellucci says. “We spend close to $1 million a year on one vender alone. One journal can be $30,000 a year. Publishers like Elsevier don’t allow authors to retain copyright for their work and don’t allow the authors to post a copy of their articles on their own Web sites.”

In February, the faculty at Harvard University adopted a policy mandating that the faculty deposit their scholarly articles in an open-access repository to be made available to the public. Dozens of universities around the country are doing the same. Vellucci is leading the campuswide initiative here at UNH.

“We’re in the planning stages,” Vellucci says. “We’re trying to get authors to be savvy enough not to relinquish their rights to publishers. That’s part of the reason for an institutional repository.”

The next steps in UNH creating its own repository are planning the technology and securing funding. Vellucci says it could happen sometime next year. Right now she is working with the Faculty Senate Library Committee to put together a symposium on open access to be held at UNH next spring.

To access Dimond Library’s digital collection go to http://www.library.unh.edu/ and select ‘digital collection’ from the choices in the blue box.

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