Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quietly, Google Puts History Online

There's an interesting article by Eric Pfanner in the New York Times discussing Google's initiatives in digitizing artifacts from museums, archives etc. and making them freely available globally to any one with internet access. Pfanner mentions a number of projects digitized by Google, all of which have seen great increases in the number of virtual visitors. He also considers the criticism that is often directed at nonprofit cultural institutions for working so closely with such a vast corporate company like Google.

Beginning of article:

PARIS — When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, reopened last year after an extensive renovation, it attracted a million visitors in the first 12 months. When the museum opened an enhanced Web site with newly digitized versions of the scrolls in September, it drew a million virtual visitors in three and a half days.

The scrolls, scanned with ultrahigh-resolution imaging technology, have been viewed on the Web from 210 countries — including some, like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, that provide few real-world visitors to the Israel Museum.

“This is taking the material to an amazing range of audiences,” said James S. Snyder, the museum’s director. “There’s no way we would have had the technical capability to do this on our own.”

The digitization of the scrolls was done by Google under a new initiative aimed at demonstrating that the Internet giant’s understanding of culture extends beyond the corporate kind. The Google Cultural Institute plans to make artifacts like the scrolls — from museums, archives, universities and other collections around the world — accessible to any Internet user. . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Boston Library Consortium endorses the Berlin Declaration

The Directors of the member libraries of the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) have unanimously agreed to endorse the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. The BLC's name will be added to the list of organizations that have signed the Declaration.

More about the Berlin Declaration is available at


Friday, November 4, 2011

ARL Endorses the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Press release from the Association of Research Libraries:
Washington, DC—On November 1, 2011, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) joined over 300 organizations and institutions to endorse the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

In a letter to Dr. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society, Winston Tabb, ARL President and Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums at the Johns Hopkins University, wrote, “The Association of Research Libraries has been a longtime and consistent supporter of Open Access and has worked hard to advance its principles internationally. During the October 2011 meeting of the Board of Directors a decision was taken to become a signatory to the Berlin Declaration. I am pleased to extend our endorsement of the Declaration and join the growing number of signatories from North America.”

The Berlin Declaration was drafted by the Max Planck Society to, in part, “promote the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human reflection and to specify measures which research policy makers, research institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives, and museums need to consider.”