March 20, 2018

At Midwinter, Call for National Strategy for Government Collections

By LJ Staff

At EBSCO’s seminar for leaders of large academic research libraries at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, Kenneth Frazier, director, University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, suggested a national strategy to secure and distribute government depository collections. He advocates creating a public domain database for legacy collections, open to the world at no cost. Some 2.2 million eligible items, representing 60 million pages, should be put in such a database. The estimated cost to convert the documents: $42 million.

Only the ARL community could get such a massive project started, Frazier asserted. “The cost may freeze us,” he warned. “It is easier to buy a commercial product than to get the money [from academic administrators] to create a public good.” Such a freely available legacy database of government documents, Frazier said, would benefit users, create a yardstick for evaluating commercial services, and provide an opportunity to identify partners to share the expense. An ARL working group plans to present an outline for a model project by May.