Assessing the Openness of our Digital Collections by Susan Falciani

The readings and discussions this year have provided me with the impetus to conduct a census of Trexler Library’s digital archives and special collections materials to assess the openness (or lack thereof) with which they have been shared. As short a time as two years ago, even the papyrus collection, which most clearly precedes any possible claim of copyright(!), was shared online with a rights statement declaring that the the images were for research or reference only, and that any other use use of them could only be done with permission from the library. This was modeled after rights statements for similar items that I could find at the time.

I have created a spreadsheet detailing the status of all of our collections, and am in the process of updating the rights statements of everything shared prior to last year with the most open rights statements possible per collection, in consultation with Kelly Cannon. I have been more intentional in recent months when creating our newer collections: for example, our college postcards collection contains four different rights statements, each tailored for the date and content of the particular item. For College publications such as the yearbook and Muhlenberg Weekly, I am consulting with administration about making available by way of Creative Commons, but we are still discussing the implications of student work vs. work-for-hire, etc. and those decisions are pending.

This reading group has provided a very well-timed opportunity for reflection and assessment of our digital content thus far and for correction of the path forward, and I have welcomed this contribution to my work.

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