Old Lions Department: Cultural Historian Robert Darnton at 78 | History News Network

“Darnton’s main ambition [as Harvard University Librarian] was to open up the library to the rest of the world and share its intellectual wealth….Several projects started being developed: the digitization of all of Harvard’s collections that concerned North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth century (an enormous amount, 500,000 documents). “It’s gigantic!” Darnton exclaimed.


A digital repository was also created – it was called DASH – which contains the scholarship of Harvard professors and is completely free and available to the public. “It’s a way of democratizing access to knowledge and you can do it from a place that has critical leverage like Harvard.”


The next step was the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which began when Darnton invited a group of foundation heads, the heads of libraries, and computer scientists to come to a meeting at Harvard in October 2010 in order to discuss an idea. “Namely, shouldn’t we try to link up all the research libraries in the United States in a digital system that would make their resources available to all the citizens of the United States and the rest of the world?”

In April 2013, the DPLA opened its digital doors, and since then, its exponential growth has produced 18 million objects (books and other things) available free of charge to everyone….”

Digitising archives, sharing knowledge | Interview | Nepali Times

“The South Asia Materials Project is now digitising as the means of preservation, and many of the resources are being made available online. Further, the newly formed South Asia Open Archives initiative is laying plans for massive efforts to digitise and make available important cultural resources for open access.”

Caselaw Access Project | Library Innovation Lab

“The Caselaw Access Project is making all U.S. case law freely accessible online.

Our common law – the written decisions issued by our state and federal courts – is not freely accessible online. This lack of access harms justice and equality and stifles innovation in legal services.

The Harvard Law School Library has one of the world’s largest, most comprehensive collections of court decisions in print form. Our collection totals over 42,000 volumes and roughly 40 million pages. Caselaw Access Project aims to transform the official print versions of these court decisions into digital files made freely accessible online….”

Virginia Woolf’s Personal Photo Album Digitized & Put Online by Harvard | Open Culture

“…Like an avid Instragrammer—or like my mother and probably yours—Woolf kept careful record of her life in photo albums, which now reside at Harvard’s Houghton Library. The Monk’s House albums, numbered 1-6, contain images of Woolf, her family, and her many friends, including such famous members of the Bloomsbury group as E.M. Forster (above, top), John Maynard Keynes, and Lytton Strachey (below, with Woolf and W.B. Yeats, and playing chess with sister Marjorie). Harvard has digitized one album, Monk’s House 4, dated 1939 on the cover. You can view its scanned pages at their library site….”

Better research through better infrastructure | Wonkhe | Policy Watch

“The inexorable rise of data driven methods, and the parallel rise of open research practice, mean that accessing and sharing huge amounts of data is inevitably going to be a major part of research in the future. In one sense this is a huge opportunity to lower the cost and raise the quality of research – more accessible data means that much more can be learned from a single experiment, and the ready availability of data from peers around the world means that findings can be cross-checked and replicated without having to generate new results.

More and more historical source materials are being digitised and shared through global and regional initiatives – more archives are emerging from library stacks and storage boxes to online databases and image galleries.

But resource storage and archival is a huge expense – both in terms of the raw cost of many terabytes of server and hard-disk space, and the expense of maintaining and updating records to aid discovery (there’ll be a continued marketing and awareness cost too). Current infrastructure provision is piecemeal and variable by discipline. …”

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – News & Announcements – PHS shares grant to digitize 18th, 19th century church records

“PHILADELPHIA The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded a prestigious Digitizing Hidden Collections grant to an interdenominational consortium of institutions holding historic records of Philadelphia congregations. The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS), the national archives of the PC(USA), is one of the consortium’s 11 collecting groups. The project was one of 14 recommended for funding in 2017 out of 118 applicants. The $385,000 grant award enables the consortium to digitize and share online more than 41,000 pages of records from the years 1708 to 1870, including baptismal, marriage, bar mitzvah and burial information.”

England plans to map the entire country in 3D using planes equipped with lasers

“Within the next three years, England will use light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to survey the entirety of the country at one-meter resolution. LIDAR imaging has been an ongoing process for nearly 20 years in an effort to reduce flood risk. At present, about 75 percent of the country has been mapped, but the coverage is sparse in unpopulated areas and national parks.

All the data will also be available free to the public, as is the case with the current LIDAR data. In the past two years, users made more than a half-million LIDAR downloads from the Survey Open Data site….”

Monticello archaeologists get boost in study of slavery | Local | dailyprogress.com

“In 2000, archaeologists at Monticello established the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, or DAACS. It is a collaborative, online database where archaeologists can upload and share data about artifacts found during excavations of slavery sites at Monticello and other places in the Chesapeake region, according to Fraser Neiman, director of archaeology at Monticello….

Blockchains, Orphan Works, and the Public Domain

Abstract: This Article outlines a blockchain based system to solve the orphan works problem. Orphan works are works still ostensibly protected by copyright for which an author cannot be found. Orphan works represent a significant problem for the efficient dissemination of knowledge, since users cannot license the works, and as a result may choose not to use them. Our proposal uses a blockchain to register attempts to find the authors of orphan works, and otherwise to facilitate use of those works. There are three elements to our proposal. First, we propose a number of mechanisms, included automated systems, to perform a diligent search for a rights holder. Second, we propose a blockchain register where every search for a work’s owner can be recorded. Third, we propose a legal mechanism that delivers works into orphanhood, and affords a right to use those works after a search for a rights holder is deemed diligent. These changes would provide any user of an orphan work with an assurance that they were acting legally as long as they had consulted the register and/or performed a diligent search for the work’s owner. The Article demonstrates a range of complementary legal and technological architectures that, in various formations, can be deployed to address the orphan works problem. We show that these technological systems are useful for enhancement of the public domain more generally, through the existence of a growing registry of gray status works and clarified conditions for their use. The selection and design of any particular implementation is a choice for policy makers and technologists. Rather than specify how that choice should look, the goal here is to demonstrate the utility of the technology and to clarify and promote its role in reforming this vexed area of law.