I would like to propose a session that could involve a series of interrelated topics of discussion including copyright, open access to scholarly materials, and digitization of texts that evade most people’s regular access.
I am thinking, first, of two basic scholarly archives as exempla: The Modernist Journals Project (MJP) (www.modjourn.org) and Early English Books Online (EEBO) (eebo.chadwyck.com/home). Both archives are rich veins of materials that used to only be available to those with the best libraries (or the best research funding). Have these online archives indeed revolutionized the democratic availability of information? Have they continued to limit access only to those privileged with institutional membership?
To structure this session, I’m thinking of a few basic questions.
- What goes into the creation of such projects?
- How do we justify either open access or paywalls?
- Do these archives indeed deliver a quality research experiences or might they falsely limit the scope of the curious student?
- What happens when a crowdsourcing community wishes to participate in an editorial or curated project that resists such participation?
- Does the prestige of creating such projects inhibit true exchange and development (i.e., the line on one’s CV as the founder of a database is different than becoming a contributor to someone else’s – is that a problem?)
At present, this is a set of ideas left purposefully hazy. My questions come out of my recent relationship to some of these scholarly archives and my curiosities about their future as research tools. Please help me develop & narrow this premise – I simply know that I’d like to do some group thinking about these archives and what they mean to humanities research.