Triangle Research Libraries Network Publishes Intellectual Property Rights Strategy for Digitization Based on "Well-intentioned Practice" Document

This is the first formally published strategy for providing access to unpublished materials online based on an approach created by OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership.

This approach is described in a document titled, "Well‐intentioned practice for putting digitized collections of unpublished materials online" and is the output of an "Undue Diligence" invitational seminar held in the spring of 2010. During this event, OCLC Research convened a group of RLG Partner experts from archives, special collections and the law to develop and define streamlined, community-accepted procedures for managing copyright in the digital age that would cut costs and boost confidence in libraries' and archives' ability to increase visibility of and access to unpublished materials online. The group acknowledged that, although there is risk in digitizing materials that may be in copyright, this risk should be balanced with the harm to scholarship and society inherent in not making collections fully accessible. Based on this premise, they identified a practical approach to selecting collections, making decisions, seeking permissions, recording outcomes, establishing policy and working with future donors, which OCLC Research staff outlined in the "Well‐intentioned practice" document and posted online.

Since then, a community of practice has formed around these procedures and many professional organizations have publicly endorsed them, including the Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association (ALA), and leading academic library professionals and scholarly communications officers.

Based on this ever‐growing agreement within the profession, the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) member libraries created a Network's Intellectual Property Rights Strategy for Digitization of Modern Manuscript Collections and Archival Record Groups to specify the well‐reasoned risk management practices to support their large‐scale digitization project called "Content, Context, and Capacity: A Collaborative Digitization Project on the Long Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina." This project will present free and open online access to a total of forty digitized manuscript collections or archival record groups, accompanied by the broad summary descriptions and contents lists found in the finding aids created when the collections were processed. For the first time, these resources will cross the boundaries of the four libraries' reading rooms―bringing together a vast quantity of research material for the era between the 1930s and 1980s. This free and open online availability of full collections will facilitate new scholarly collaborations across institutions, and even nations, and will support the development of educational tools for students and the use of primary sources in classrooms.

TRLN member libraries are Duke University, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC at Chapel Hill). Each member library holds outstanding special collections including manuscript collections and archival record groups that document the recent American past.

More Information

Read the Triangle Research Libraries Network's Intellectual Property Rights Strategy for Digitization of Modern Manuscript Collections and Archival Record Groups

Review the list of institutions that have endorsed this practice

Learn more about the OCLC Research activity, Introduce Balance in Rights Management

Learn more about the OCLC Research event, "Undue Diligence"

Learn more about the Triangle Research Libraries Network

For more information:

Merrilee Proffitt
Senior Program Officer
OCLC Research

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research