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ARL Promotes Member Use of Large Scale Digitization Principles

Press Release: Association of Research Libraries [August 4, 2010]

Washington DC— The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors unanimously voted on July 26, 2010, to endorse a set of nine Principles to guide vendor/publisher relations in large-scale digitization projects of special collections materials, recommended by its Transforming Special Collections in the Digital Age Working Group. The Board’s vote strongly encourages ARL member libraries to refrain from signing future agreements with publishers or vendors, either individually or through consortia, that do not adhere to the principles.

The ARL Board recognizes that research libraries are increasingly finding that large-scale digitization of special collections materials involves partnerships with commercial vendors and publishers, and that those partnerships should be governed by principles that protect special collections materials and promote the broadest possible access to digital versions of them.

Special collections often include valuable and unique materials, but also incur special responsibilities for their stewards. Digital access to special collections materials has become important in revealing hidden materials and promoting humanities research, and ARL member libraries often require appropriate collaborations and partnerships to implement large-scale digitization activities.

The nine principles address issues including implications of the distinctive character of special collections, the need for libraries to retain their own copies of the products of digitization projects, the importance of promoting broad access to digitized collections, and concerns regarding the collection of data about users of digitized collections.

"I am thrilled that the ARL Board has endorsed these principles, which encourage research libraries and archives to provide digital access to special collections while safeguarding institutional interests and promoting broad public access," said Anne R. Kenney, Chair of the Working Group. "At Cornell, we plan to draw on the framework to improve many terms in our negotiations with vendors, including to shorten embargo periods on all our digitized collections to five years or less."

To view these principles, please visit:

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the Web at

View Citation
Publication Year:2010
Type of Material:Press Release
Language English
Issue:August 4, 2010
Publisher:Association of Research Libraries
Company: Association of Research Libraries
Record Number:14976
Last Update:2023-12-04 01:26:31
Date Created:2010-08-04 16:39:52