About a year ago, inspired by LACMA’s Reading Room, we started thinking about digitizing some Brooklyn Museum publications. We were excited to learn that many of the Museum’s publications had already been digitized–Google Books, Microsoft, and university digitization projects have all created huge amounts of content that is now part of the HathiTrust Digital Library hosted at the University of Michigan. Bonanza!
There’s an Elephant in the Library.
Organizers Promise It Will Never Forget.
Hathi (pronounced hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant.
Enter copyright. Many of the books in the database are available only as “limited — search only” records. Hathi Trust books that fall into the Public Domain are automatically available, but everything after 1923 has to be researched and copyright cleared…OR…the copyright holder has to grant permission.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the content on the Brooklyn Museum website is licensed under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license. HathiTrust now offers that option to rights holders. It was a natural for us to jump in and offer pre-1990 Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Institute publications under CC terms, too. More recent books will come online gradually, as they go out of print and the stock dwindles (yes, we still want to sell books). And books that we co-published are going to take some legwork to acquire permission from partners.
A book is still a beautiful thing — these don’t have their pretty covers and the illustrations can be…hmm…less than optimal — but there’s a lot to be said for being able to dive in and READ whenever you want. We hope that you’ll enjoy this new resource, but that you’ll also visit your library (or ours) to hold these treasures in your hands.
Tell us what you’re reading!
Deborah Wythe manages the Brooklyn Museum’s Digital Collections and Services department (the “Digital Lab”), coordinating digital imaging activities museum-wide, including the photo studio, scan lab, digital asset management, and rights and reproductions. Before moving to the Digital Lab, Deb was the Museum Archivist, where she managed the Museum’s historical records and worked on several technology-driven projects. Deb edited the new edition of Museum Archives: An Introduction, published by the Society of American Archivists in 2004, and wrote the chapters on the museum context, appraisal, description, records surveys, and photographs. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Museum staff, she worked on the Steinway Collection at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and, as an intern, organized the records of the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In her previous life, before discovering archives work (she has always been a museum maven), Deb earned her Master’s and PhD in musicology at NYU. She still studies the piano.