Digitization of Special Collections: RBMS Principles for Digital Content

Special Collections librarians endorse the values set forth in the ALA Principles for Digital Content approved by ALA Council in June, 2007, but identify these additional values as having particular relevance to our rare and unique collections:

  1. We acknowledge our special responsibility:  We have a special responsibility to provide digital access to our collections precisely because many of them are rare or unique.
  2. We are dedicated to addressing our unique access issues:  Digital collections democratize and enhance access to information that is unique or scarce.
  3. We believe in collaboration and “added value”:  Digital technology offers opportunities to bring together related materials in disparate repositories.
  4. We support the educational use of unique materials in our collections:  The availability of primary sources in digital form plays a special role in the development of critical thinking in a well-designed curriculum.
  5. We value books, papers, graphics, dynamic media, and other materials as physical objects and are committed to their preservation:  Although digital surrogates cannot replicate the physical characteristics of our collections, they  may reduce wear and tear on rare and unique materials.
  6. We are dedicated to promoting the value and use of our collections:  Digital collections offer unique outreach opportunities for Special Collections.
  7. We promote multiple uses and methodologies for research collections:  Digital collections enable a multiplicity of access points to materials, supporting new uses and modes of inquiry that were previously unavailable.

Contact: Rebekah Irwin
Submitted: January 2009

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