Harvard digitization project on the history of reading
March 1, 2010 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Harvard digitization project on the history of reading
"Reading: Harvard Views of Readers, Readership, and Reading History" is a project to digitize books and manuscripts from around the Harvard University Libraries relating to the history of reading. It includes manuscript commonplace books, historical textbooks on reading, and annotated books from the libraries of authors such as Keats, Melville, and Emerson.

It's probably obvious, but I should point out that I was just one of many folks who worked on this project. I'm particularly pleased that I got some of our books annotated by Hester Piozzi included.
posted by Horace Rumpole (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I know your hands are probably tied a little bit here, but I had two questions about this

1. do you feel it's a little weird requiring permission to use scans of things that are basically public domain [I'm aware of the difference between the scans of the thing and the thing, but I was maybe half hoping Harvard would set an open tone]
2. The Google scanned stuff, can you guys use that in this sort of project or does that violate your license?

I don't mean to be all GRAR COPYFIGHT about this, it's a terrific resource and lovely looking, I'm just hoping larger orgs can set a smart tone for smaller orgs to follow and I'm curious about how that worked here. Feel free to email me directly if any of htis is too inside baseball for MeFi Projects.
posted by jessamyn at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2010

do you feel it's a little weird requiring permission to use scans of things that are basically public domain

I do, but those kind of decisions were way above my pay grade. I suspect it's inevitable that a project that coordinates between a lot of autonomous libraries (Harvard is very decentralized) is going to defer to the one with the most restrictive policy, and let the others be more liberal when asked. In this regard, I am very pleased my library has recently revised its permissions policy very substantially in the direction of "if it's public domain, do whatever you want". (Not 100%, but it's definitely an improvement.)

I don't know about the Google Books agreement (Houghton wasn't involved, and Harvard has since withdrawn from the project), but if I had to guess I would say no. I think all of this was scanned by Harvard specifically for this project.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2010

Thanks very much for the speedy feedback. I talk to Peter Hirtle form time to time about their public domain stuff and policies [at Cornell], so I'm always curious about how institutions arrive at these decisions.
posted by jessamyn at 11:53 AM on March 3, 2010

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