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Report Examines Current Approaches to Selection for Digitization

subject: digital collections
library collections
library digital collections
online collections
sustaining collections
building collections
digital reformatting
scholarly research

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release: October 1, 2001

Contact: Daniel Greenstein 202-939-4762

Report Examines Current Approaches  to Selection for Digitization

Washington, D.C.— Libraries’ experiments with digital conversion have yielded a wealth of experience about what works and what does not. But while technical “good practices” continue to be refined, libraries face other questions. What purpose will these digitized collections serve over time? How can they be integrated with existing collections and services? How can they be sustained? A recently published report from the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources, entitled Strategies for Building Digitized Collections, looks at how some libraries are answering these questions.

Author Abby Smith, director of programs at CLIR, points out that selection for digital conversion has been correctly termed “reselection.” It is an investment in existing collections for the purposes of preservation or access or both. In reviewing the experiences of libraries that have been digitizing for a decade or more, she has found that such programs work best when their role within a library’s collection development strategy is clearly understood and clearly articulated. “Every library, regardless of size or mission, will need to determine for itself how and when digitization will move from being an experiment to becoming a collection-development strategy that is well integrated into its daily practice,” she notes. But she also points to the challenges that libraries have encountered in forming such strategies, since the real costs and long-term benefits of digital conversion remain unclear.

The report opens with points to consider in developing a sustainable strategy. Subsequent sections address identification and selection, institutional impacts, challenges in evaluating costs and benefits, and recommendations.

The report is the third in a series that focuses on challenges in digital collection development. Previous reports in the series have examined strategies for integrating commercially available resources and Web-based resources into library collections.

Strategies for Building Digitized Collections is available on CLIR’s Web site at Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.

The Digital Library Federation is a nonprofit consortium of libraries and related organizations that are pioneering the use of electronic-information technology to extend collections and services. It operates under the umbrella of the Council on Library and Information Resources, which acts on behalf of libraries, archives, and universities to develop and encourage collaborative strategies for preserving and providing access to scholarly resources.

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