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Draft Principles for Digitized Content


In January of 2007, the Digitization Policy Task Force of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy introduced the draft Principles for Digitized Content. This document is presented to the community for discussion and revision. Its goal is to succinctly voice the primary policy areas that can guide libraries as they make decisions regarding digitization. This (wiki/blog) is an online area for that discussion to take place. The links below take you to pages where your comments can be recorded.



The accelerating mass digitization of collections in libraries and cultural heritage institutions demands a framework of principles and a body of policy to guide decision making and to enable values-driven choices. The principles for the digitization of content will provoke a review of American Library Association policies that address the creation, access, use and preservation of digital materials and that require revision, enhancement and creation. This is critical to the advancement of ALA's leadership role in the information society and to the support provided to members. This will also sustain the relevance and impact of libraries and librarians in their communities.

General comments


Principle 1


Digital libraries ARE libraries. The policies of the Association apply fully to digital libraries including the core values such as commitment to access, confidentiality/privacy, the public good, and professionalism.

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Principle 2

Digital content, like other library materials, must be given the same consideration for collection development, ease of access, freedom of information, and preservation.

Comments on Principle 2


Principle 3

Digital activities and the resulting collections must be sustainable by libraries. Sustainability requires secure and ongoing funding, technology solutions that are appropriate to the longevity of the cultural record, and long-term management capabilities.

Comments on Principle 3


Principle 4

Digitization on a large scale requires collaboration. Collaboration enables the building of collections that support research, scholarship and information needs of diverse communities. Collaboration will require strong organizational support and promotion by cultural heritage professionals, their institutions, and their associations.

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Principle 5

Digital activity requires ongoing communication for its success. The library and cultural heritage community must reach out to the public, to government, and to funding institutions with a clear and compelling message regarding the role of digital libraries and collections.

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Principle 6

Digital collections increasingly address an international audience. These collections are part of a global information infrastructure that is not limited by geography.

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Principle 7

Digital collections are developed and sustained by an educated workforce. Members of the cultural heritage professions must engage in continuous learning and be able to explore new technology, to work with new partners, and to reach new audiences.

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Principle 8

Digital materials must be the object of appropriate preservation. Preservation activities require the development of standards and best practices as well as models for sustainable funding to guarantee long term commitment to these materials.

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Principle 9

Digital collections and their materials must adhere to standards to maximize their usefulness. Standards must serve the broadest community of users, support sustainable access and use over time, and provide user functionality that promotes the core library values (http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/corevaluesstatement/corevalues.htm).

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