February 17, 2018

Boston Library Consortium Partners with OCA on Digitization Project

By Andrew Albanese

The Boston Library Consortium, Inc. (BLC) has announced a major partnership with the Open Content Alliance (OCA) to “build a freely accessible library of digital materials from all 19 member institutions.” With the move, the BLC becomes the first large-scale consortium to embark on such a self-funded digitization project with the OCA. The effort will draw on the vast collective resources of the BLC members to make “high-resolution, downloadable, reusable files of public domain materials,” using Internet Archive technology, for roughly ten cents a page. The scanning center for the BLC/OCA partnership is located at the Boston Public Library (BPL).
The announcement comes shortly after OCA founder Brewster Kahle told Library Journal that Boston Public Library officials had chosen not to pursue the chance to participate in commercial projects, choosing instead to work with OCA. “Revolutions aren’t started by majorities,” Kahle said. “They come from leaders who see things that need to be done. Boston Public Library, for example, has been courted by Google, but it has said it is going to remain open.”
The OCA has been making steady, if quiet progress in comparison to its commercial counterparts. It now counts 40 members and regional scanning centers in six cities scanning up to 12,000 books a month, over four million pages. Unlike with commercial scan plans, there are no restrictions on public domain books scanned by OCA members. Users are not forced to use proprietary interfaces, and OCA scans are not hidden from rival search engines. Books scanned under the BLC initiative will be hosted by the Internet Archive and available to “be indexed by any search engine following the BLC and OCA’s philosophy of open access to digitized content,” Kahle said.
BLC members include: Boston College, Boston Public Library, Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, the Marine Biological Laboratory & Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, the State Library of Massachusetts, Tufts University, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, University of New Hampshire, Wellesley College, and Williams College.

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