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Groups Urge U.S. to Digitize Federal Holdings

Source: freedominfo.org

Date: 2 January 2012

Two large U.S. civil society organizations with ties to the Obama administration Dec. 21 recommended that the government embark on a major effort to digitize more information held by government organizations.

The letter stated, “Over the last year, a number of efforts have sprung up to create comprehensive digital libraries. The European Union has created Europeana with a goal to `make a large part of the world’s cultural heritage available to a large part of the world’s population.’ In the United States, efforts have included Google Books, the Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, and the recently announced Digital Public Library of America, a planning initiative with a goal of “creating a large-scale digital public library that will make the cultural and scientific record available to all.”

U.S. government efforts to digitize federal holdings “have been preliminary and tentative. According to the letter by John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress and Carl Malamud, president of the Public Resource.org.

“Our national cultural and scientific organizations have never worked together to develop a coherent digitization strategy to scan at scale,” they wrote.

They suggest forming a “Federal Scanning Commission” to assess holdings, figure out how long digitization would take and how much it would costs, propose a strategy, and analyze the benefits.