Digitizing Initiatives

Digitizing initiatives not intended for profit

It is widely acknowledged that the Internet has changed forever the way we work together, teach and learn, talk to each other, as well as find, use, create and share information. -- Paul Conway


Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) advocates placing online -- where feasible -- all films, audio recordings and paper-printed texts relating to American representational art. A goal of TFAO is to place on its site all available paper-printed texts within its field of interest that are not otherwise freely available on other sites through the efforts of other nonprofit or commercial organizations. In its site's unique content pages, cross references and links are made to exhibition catalogues, articles, online videos, DVD and VHS videos, online audio, illustrated audio, and other compilations for further study.
Through its publication Resource Library, TFAO offers a complimentary online publishing service to copyright holders of paper-printed texts. Resource Library's pages on scholarly texts from institutions and scholarly text from private sources describe its benefits to both the public and its sources of content. Resource Library does not charge copyright holders to publish texts and offers the texts for online reading free of charge. The texts may be "in copyright" or with expired copyrights and may be "in print" or out-of-print. Resource Library secures permission from copyright holders prior to digitizing and publishing their texts online.
TFAO's special projects initiative and conversion of analog text to digital files and online publication of scholarly texts grant program describe other essay discovery, permissions and processing programs in addition to the ongoing services of Resource Library. Other current grant programs for museums include video and audio initiatives and transcription of podcast files to text and online publication. TFAO seeks to discover and share with institutions further avenues for digitizing information and services.
Please see TFAO's page Acquisition and deselection of content for information on other initiatives including Wikipedia.

Digital Commons repositories are a means by which the public may access exhibition catalogues, brochures, didactic wall panels, extended object labels, checklists, marketing materials, object images, and other information relating to specific exhibitions hosted by member institutions.
The organization's website says as of February, 2014 that "Digital Commons is the leading hosted institutional repository software for universities, colleges, law schools, and research centers."
Examples of art museums associated with Digital Commons are: Bellarmine Museum of Art, Frost Art Museum, La Salle University Art Museum and Sheldon Museum of Art.

The Internet Archive was founded in 1996 to to build an Internet library. It offers from the JSTOR Early Journal Content collection as of 2013 over 1,600 pre-1923 articles from the journal Art and Progress. Most articles relate to American art.

Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) is a a joint effort by the Getty Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Museum. It is a five year initiative that brings together the resources of nine art museums. It endeavors to create ways to incorporate, beyond the usual static artwork images and text of print publications, audio and video into online catalogues, plus other features. The OSCI site says that through the efforts of the participants in the project:
"...a completely new model of scholarly publishing is coming into focus, one in which robust future-focused technologies make comprehensive scholarly information available in beautifully rendered formats for devices as varied as iPads and dual-screen workstations. Readers will be able to study detailed images of artworks online, overlay them with conservation documentation, discover scholarly essays in easy-to-read formats, take notes in the margins that can be stored for later use, and export citations to their desktops. Moreover, the system of software tools under development is being designed to be both flexible and replicable so it can support a broad variety of other collections-based publication by museums into the future."
As of February, 2013 a 50 page 2012 interim report titled Moving Museum Catalogues Online is available for download in .pdf format on the Getty Foundation's website. The participating musuems plan to publish scholarly catalogues on their websites. It is not clear to what extent catalogues will be available without charge to viewers.
An article titled "The Transition to Online Scholarly Catalogues," published online in 2011 by Museums and the Web 2011 by Nik Honeysett of the J. Paul Getty Museum, discusses aspects of OSCI.

The Universal Library, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University, is conducting a project named the Million Book Digital Library to digitize principally "in copyright," although out-of-print, books on many topics. The books are free to read on the Web. Persons who wish to have collections of books digitized and have the texts placed on the Web may contact Denise Troll Covey at troll@andrew.cmu.edu. A project proposal by Raj Reddy, University Professor, School of Computer Science, and Gloriana St. Clair, University Librarian, concerning The Million Book project states "NCES reports that 84 percent of libraries around the country are open between 60 and 80 hours a week. This digital library would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year for a total of 168 hours a week, over twice the time most libraries are open. More than one individual will be able to use the same book at the same time. Thus, popular works will not be checked out and thus unavailable to others." Likewise, the texts available on the Web via TFAO-dl may be accessed by more than one reader at a time at all times during the year.

Project Gutenberg (PG) is an Internet producer of free electronic books (eBooks or eTexts). PG states that the "Project Gutenberg philosophy is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms a vast majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search." TFAO has canvassed hundreds of organizations and individuals to advise them of the PG service. TFAO encourages readers to consider PG as an option to have books digitized. Readers may send information on American art history books with expired copyrights directly to PG. Project Gutenberg announced in October, 2003 that it had reached its long-standing goal of releasing 10,000 free titles to the Internet, and that it would soon also release a DVD of most of these titles.

ManyBooks.net provides free on-demand download of public domain ebooks from Project Gutenberg and other sources. It has features such as cover art and other information that might be found in an online bookstore. As of February, 2013, two out of 108 art titles in English were devoted to American art.

In February 2005, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art received an award of $3.6 million to dramatically increase the accessibility of its resources. The grant is used to fund a comprehensive, five-year program to digitize a substantial cross-section of the Archives' most important holdings, including the papers of a highly diverse range of artists and arts-related figures from the eighteenth century to today. At the end of the program, an estimated 1.6 million digital files will be available to the public. The papers of artists and other archival collections in the Archives of American Art are now available online. These collections, containing letters, postcards, sketches, exhibition records, diaries, and other unique documents, are a rich and valuable resource for the study of American art and history. Over one hundred collections are scheduled for digitization over the next five years.

Making of America is a digital library of texts concerning American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. MOA is a collaborative effort between Cornell University and the University of Michigan consisting of a collection of of out-of-copyright books and journals. Cornell University's MOA collection provides access to 907,750 pages (as of November, 2004) in 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles from 22 journals. As of September 1, 2004, the University of Michigan MOA collection contained 3,322,061 pages from 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles. Pages were first digitized as 600 dpi TIFF images, followed by optical character recognition of the TIFF images. Many pages have open access while others are restricted. Full text keyword search is available for both collections.

Learner.org provides life long learning on the Web. Several digitized full motion online videos focus on American art in the A World of Art: Work in Progress series. A World of Art is a video instructional series on art appreciation for college and high school classrooms and adult learners. Each program in this art appreciation series is devoted to a contemporary artist who takes one or more works of art from start to finish. Broadband video is streamed via Windows Media Player. Each show is 30 minutes in length.
Examples are:
-- Lorna Simpson: Lorna Simpson, photographer, explores the ambiguous terrain connecting words and images in large-scale landscapes silkscreened on felt.
-- Hung Liu: Hung Liu, painter, comments on traditional Chinese society as she paints a series of works on the Last Emperor and his court.
-- Beverly Buchanan: Beverly Buchanan, photographer, sculptor, and painter, focuses on an important symbol of rural Southern culture: the shack.
-- Judy Baca: Judy Baca, painter and activist known for her mile-long mural in Los Angeles depicting Chicano history, works on two public art projects in Southern California.
An opportunity exists for PBS affiliates, museums and other non-profit owners of VHS/DVD programs to digitize them for online presentation. A list of videos for consideration are at TFAO's videos section within catalogues. Local public television stations have recording equipment to facilitate multimedia and can be approached by museums for assistance in digitizing museums' video programs.

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, launched in 2004 WPS1, a Web-based radio station devoted to the arts. WPS1 also served as an audio digital library. MOMA received from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture a set of CD-Rs containing artists' lectures digitized from analog recordings of Skowhegan's artist faculty. The lectures were originally intended for use by the School's students and other artists. Through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation the lectures were digitized and placed on DR-Rs, then disseminated to institutions including MOMA. WPS1 sought permissions from the artists to have selected archived lectures broadcast on the Web. Please see Wikipedia's entry on WPS1.


Digitizing initiatives with revenue and profit aspects

For information on digitizing initiatives with revenue and profit aspects please click here.


Also see:

TFAO Free Online Digital Library

Digital Libraries for Museums

Digital Lbraries for Art Dealer Associations

Digitizing Initiatives with Profit Aspects

The eBook future

Related Non-Profit Organizations

Methods and Costs


Survey of Online Exhibition Catalogues, Brochures, Gallery Guides and Related Materials

"American Art History and Digital Scholarship: New Avenues of Exploration" at Archives of American Art, November 15 & 16, 2013, Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, from the Terra Foundation for American Art Web page linking to audio and video resources. Accessed October, 2015.


Notes on copyright and the public domain:

Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), a joint effort by the Getty Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Museum, published in 2012 a 50 page interim report titled Moving Museum Catalogues Online. It is available, as of February 2103, for download in .pdf format on the Getty Foundation's website. Pages 37 through 42 of the report contain Appendix 2, titled "Intellectual Property Rights." Appendix 2 was authored by Maureen Whalen, Associate General Counsel of the J. Paul Getty Trust. She writes about issues related to online catalogues and includes a draft model form intellectual property rights permission request.

Wikipedia has a page on the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which says as of 2/26/13:

The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) of 1998 extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The Act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.[1] Copyright protection for works published prior to January 1, 1978, was increased by 20 years to a total of 95 years from their publication date.
This law, also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act,[2] effectively "froze" the advancement date of the public domain in the United States for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules. Under this Act, additional works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still protected by copyright in 1998 will not enter the public domain until 2019 or afterward (depending on the date of the product) unless the owner of the copyright releases them into the public domain prior to that. Unlike copyright extension legislation in the European Union, the Sonny Bono Act did not revive copyrights that had already expired. The Act did extend the terms of protection set for works that were already copyrighted, and is retroactive in that sense. However, works created before January 1, 1978, but not published or registered for copyright until recently, are addressed in a special section (17 U.S.C. § 303) and may remain protected until the end of 2047. The Act became Pub.L. 105­298 on October 27, 1998.
1. ^ U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 1: Copyright Basics, pp. 5-6
2. ^ Lawrence Lessig, Copyright's First Amendment, 48 UCLA L. Rev. 1057, 1065 (2001)


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