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October 04, 2005

Open Content Alliance Rises to the Challenge of Google Print

Barbara Quint, Open Content Alliance Rises to the Challenge of Google Print, Information Today, October 3, 2005. Excerpt:

"What a great idea!...The goal of the effort is to establish a flexible, open infrastructure for bringing large collections of digitized material into the open Web. Permanently archived digital content, which is selected for its value by librarians, should offer a new model for collaborative library collection building, according to one OCA member. While openness will characterize content in the program, the OCA will also adhere to protection of the rights of copyright holders....Even though Yahoo! Search has taken a leading role with the OCA, the fundamental principle behind the program is open accessibility. As material comes online, all search engines --and yes, that does include Google-- will have access to the repository....Experience has shown that the most stringent barriers to digitization often lie in the bureaucratic politics and complex legalities. The Open Content Alliance hopes to work through these problems and, according to Kahle, "establish mechanisms for sharing while meeting each institution’s responsibility in opening content." Kahle described the organization’s goals. "In essence, we want to get the rules right, to enable libraries to work with commercial sources, governments, etc., without having to hammer out separate agreements."...Initially, according to Kahle, the OCA content will be completely open access; it will be available to all, with no password required. The OCA may carry notices on specific requirements due to Creative Commons licensing, but it will not police compliance....When asked what will distinguish the OCA material from Internet Archive’s existing archives, e.g., the snapshots of the Web in the Wayback Machine, Kahle said that the "Open Content Alliance will be more library-like, as opposed to an archive. Content will be more curated, more vetted by library staff. The OCA is trying to kick off with an end-user focus, as opposed to where the collections come from, but how it will evolve, we don’t know yet."...I interviewed Carole Moore, chief librarian at the University of Toronto, and Daniel Greenstein, associate vice president and university librarian at the California Digital Library. Interestingly, both saluted Google Print for getting the ball rolling. Discussing mass digitization projects, Greenstein said: "Google kicked us into gear. They woke us up." Moore said: "It is an idea whose time has come. Before, when it came to digitizing books, the world was not ready, but the world has changed. Google can’t do it all. Other people have to contribute."...For Greenstein, probably the single most promising factor was that he now sees librarians tapping into collection budgets to fund digitization projects. Instead of treating digitization as an extra service that would probably be funded by grant money, librarians have begun seeing digitization and sharing with other institutions - and the world through the open Web - as a form of collaborative collection building."

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