February 28, 2000
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SUSAN VECCIA: (Manager for Educational Projects)
MS. EMILY HOWIE: (Law Librarian)
MS. LENI DONLAN (Educational Resources Specialist)
Ms. Veccia: What we are going to do now is give you a little background on our collections in the American Memory Collection archives. We have over 70 collections of materials, photos, pamphlets, motion pictures and sound recordings. That presents a real challenge in terms of how we present the items and also what kind of clearance we have to go through as an institution to be able to show these to you. One of the things Emily does, her background is as a legal librarian, is that she researches every item in the collections to be certain that we have the right to put these materials up on the website.
Ms. Howie: Generally one of the
items I look for is how did the library acquire the item to begin with.
Was it a gift? Was it designated in somebodyís will? Did the
library purchase it? Frankly, sometimes itís surprising to find
out how little information the Library of Congress has about the origins
of the oldest material. The library has such an amazing amount of
such material. There is an office of Deeds and Gifts. Generally there
is information about the origin, but they may no longer have a copy of
the will or agreement. This information is listed in a Finding Aid
for each collection.
The library is divided into different reading rooms. For example, there is one for manuscripts, one for prints and one for photographs. They will have Finding Aids there. The Finding Aids list the items in that particular collection. A collection may be composed of correspondence, manuscripts, diaries and photographs. For each item there is a brief explanation. It will include information about restrictions on the use of the collection.
If an item has been willed to the library the person can say we want to be able to tell the Library of Congress who can see this and who canít. If a scholar comes to us to do research, and there is a restriction, from a will or a gift, the Library of Congress has to go to that person to ask permission to use it on the internet. For older materials, after a person dies, and there is no designation in the will, there will be a statement on the finding aid that says that there was a restriction but now it has been lifted. There have been situations where the family of someone who donated the materials or the subject of a photograph or letter have expressed wishes not to make something public but they have to have the legal right on paper to show that they have control over the documents.
Ms. Veccia: For each collection
item that we create, Emily goes through this process of checking their
history to be sure we can put it up on the web for the purpose we are putting
it on them web. The purpose is information. But, that does
not extend to you as the user, only to the Library of Congress. You
will see a copyright statement on every collection online. It says
that we have researched all of the items. For example, on the Alexander
Graham Bell papers there is a general copyright statement. We needed
to get permission for the use of photographs because they still have the
rights to them. They may have asked that the Library of Congress
put a statement with the photograph giving credit to the giver on the item
or photograph itself. The office of copyrights is one place where the Library
of Congress gets its collection, but we donít keep all of them. Gifts,
purchases and the Office of Copyright are the main sources of our collection.
Ms Howie: We try very hard to link the credit with the photograph. Sometimes the way the collection is structured we are not able to do that. We have to go to another place to see permissions information. Most of the things in the collection are older, such as 19th century materials, that the Library of Congress felt very comfortable putting on the Internet because they are in the public domain.
Being in the Ēpublic domainĒ means that there are no restrictions. No one has the rights to these; no one owns them, you donít have to ask for permission to use them. They are out there for anyone to use and see. If it was created prior to 1923 it is in the public domain. The test is if the document is older than the life of the creator plus 70 years. The Sony Bono Act of 1998 extended copyright protection to this time period. That is why you mainly see historical materials and not current materials on this website. They tried to draw as much from the public domain as possible so that there would be no question about the use of the items. The date of 1923 is a magic date.
In the finding aid for a collection, if something is not in the
public domain, there will be a special designation next to the description
of an item, that would say, for example, courtesy of so and so, or
gift of someone. If you donít see anything except the Library of
Congress' file number, or cataloging information, it is safe to assume
that that is in the public domain. Many people ask for permission
from the Library of Congress for the use of images out of courtesy and
to be careful even if the item is in the public domain. There are
some restrictions in the Alexander Graham Bell Collection and the Jackie
Robinson collection. They have the option of whether contact information
can be included on the Finding Aid so that people can seek permission to
use the items. Usually these involve questions of privacy.
I will give you an example of the difficulty of using current subject for a digital collection. The Library of Congress was given a grant to digitalize the collection of papers belonging to the German author, philosopher and teacher Hanna Arendt who died in 1975. She willed her papers to the Library of Congress. Many people wrote to her. Many of these people were writers and teachers who had published articles and books. Many of these articles were about the Nazi war trials after World War II. There are over 3000 items in this collection and all of the items have to be checked. When I started researching the list of names mentioned in these papers, I found information on three-fourths of the people who wrote to her. This is amazing.
What this means is that we have to make a good faith effort to find everyone or their families. The Library of Congress has to keep a detailed record of our efforts to find these writers in case there are future challenges to our rights to protect this institution. This is a massive project. We have written over two thousand letters for this collection. We will not do another 20th century collection of manuscripts for a long time because there are not enough people and not enough money for the necessary research involved in such a project. We had to hire three other people to help us create a huge database. Not all of the digitalized items will go on the Internet. The collection is being digitalized for the New School of Social Research in New York City. There will be selective items put on the Internet, however, we must do this extensive work because of the importance of copyrights.
Ms. Veccia: We have typed
transcriptions of some of the images of text that you see on many of
the collections. For example: the Gettysburg Address. The collections
are organized in different ways. As we have digitalized each collection
and learn new things, and as new technology has become available, sometimes
different decisions have been made about how to present the material on
the internet. Sometimes decisions are made based on the funding.
It can be very expensive to transcribe letters.
So, the only way you can make them searchable by specific words such as those in the Gettysburg Address is if the document has been transcribed. The image of a document is like a photograph. In order to find words or phrases you have to have those words in an ASCII file. That transcript exists for many of the collections, but not all. The George Washington letters are in handwriting, as a manuscript would be, but they are also transcribed so that you can search them. It is a very, very expensive process. The Gettysburg Address is one of the earliest items we digitalized in our collection. As technology improves, new images will be better. We cannot go back and re-photograph all of the collections as we get new technology because the material at the Library of Congress is so enormous.
So, what you are seeing here about copyrights and production issues, is that these decisions are made about how items are going to appear for economic and legal reasons. Not just what would be best for you as the user. Unfortunately, that is the way the world is. We have to justify the economics and protect the institution legally. A lot of what you see is the result of these two things coming into play. Anything we do has to go through this clearance because the library has to be clear when it puts up a collection that we have the right for these items, for these images of the items, for the purpose of going on the web.
Now, you, Madeline, are sitting over there thinking that you would like
to use these items on your own website. We did not ask the people
who gave these documents to the Library about that! We only asked
them about the Library of Congress Website. In your case you are
using them for educational purposes and not for a profit motive.
It is my understanding that you can use these images for your website,
but we would like you to cite where you found these images.
Do you have to cite the image on the acknowledgments page or bibliography
and on the page where the image is kept?
What would not be educational use is, let us just say that instead of being eleven years old, you are an adult and you decide that because you spent ten years researching a subject and now you really think youíve got it and you start a business and a website driven by economic means. Then you are in a different position. Then you really have to take care to do everything that Emily is doing. For everything you put on your website, you have to research the right to those images.
When you use an item that is listed as a gift to the Library of Congress, you should acknowledge that it came from a certain collection as a gift to the Library of Congress and it is part of the American Memory Collection. You need a link to the citation. Every artifact exists in many forms. There is the real thing, the book. Then there is the image which is something that has itís own copyright protection. There is a transcription of the document also. The business of layering different versions of the same artifact is very tricky. The Library of Congress does sell reproductions, but the cost of reprints just covers the cost of making the reprint. We donít earn any money selling reprints.
Is the American Memory Collection connected with
the American Treasures Collection?
None of us are production people here but we can tell you a bit about the process of digitalizing an item in the collection. It involves taking a picture or scanning an item. For example, if this book is an item, you have to take a picture of the front page and every page and do it in a sequence so that you can point back to each page. We get the image back and review them in a viewer to make sure that the pages were copied clearly and are in the right direction.
Ms. Howie: In a lot instances the thing being digitalized has to be looked at for preservation and conservation issues. Some things are very fragile and may be falling apart if the paper is acid paper. They have to first do the preservation things to the item and then do the scanning. It may be as simple as putting it into a Mylar or plastic sleeve before scanning it. Iím not a conservationist, but sometimes there has to be a lot of preservation done before they even get to the scanning. There are different kind of scanners. There are flat bed scanners and there are scanners for books that canít be opened flat. The rare books go in scanners where the book stands up and the scanner goes around it so the book doesnít have to be damaged.
There are about 60 or 70 people that work in the production section of the National Digital Library. There are items like the maps that need huge scanners. The maps have been scanned with special technology so that you can zoom into a small section and print it. It allows you to see things that you would not otherwise see if you are working with the item itself.
Ms. Veccia: We have a childrenís literature section. We donít have textbooks as you know them but in the early days they had primers to learn how to read. We were talking with the Childrenís literature center about digitalizing some of the images. Would that be interesting to you? Check out George Washingtonís manuscripts because you will find his sum books from his childhood.
have architectural drawings and maps from the National Parks system.
Itís a cooperative project between the Library of Congress and the National
Parks service. That is a collection that is up now. It is a
huge collection that is going up in stages. The text is part of the
digital collection from ten rows of books held by the library, but the
images are not up yet. I think itís called the Historic American
Survey. It will take four or five years to create the collection.
Why donít we tell you what you can copy and what you canít? The difficulty for the institution is that we canít take responsibility for what you do. You have to take responsibility for yourself. This is even true when Xeroxing. When we first had copy machines in libraries, there were big signs saying follow copyright laws. This machine is for fair use only. But there wasnít someone there saying you can copy this, but you canít copy that. You can copy a page but not a chapter. You can give a copy of a chapter to students without going through the copyright clearinghouse. If we did that, librarians would be policemen. So, the responsibility is always on the user.
Ms. Donlan: There is something
special about using the image of a document. You have to think
about how you can use them. If you look at the Walt Whitman diaries,
you can see words that are crossed out, you can see the flow of ideas and
how they were improved and polished. You can see different drafts
of the Declaration of Independence where you can see how changes were made.
You can go back and research the background to see how they reached the
final version. You have to ask yourself is it just the hand written
image or does it represent something more than that?
Teachers are finding out about the American Memory Collection and the Library of Congress' Website. We provide professional development training for teachers in the summer. Throughout the year we have many training opportunities here. We are doing some video conferencing with teachers. We also have some web projects for students coming along. There are activities for kids on the Learning Page. We go to many conferences and make presentations about the website. But itís still one of the best-kept secrets around. Not a lot of teachers are aware of it. We are trying to get the word out. Maybe you can help us, Madeline.
Madeline: Thank you very much
for this wonderful interview. The Library of Congress and the National
Digital Library will be an important part of our website.
THE COPYCAT'S TOUR
|Computer #1 says: Have you heard
about the American Memory Collection?
Computer #2 says: I wouldn't know, I don't have any memory left myself.
Computer #1 says: Why don't you borrow some from the Library of Congress? They have room for EVERYTHING.
LOC is a really a GREAT place to visit. Unfortunately, some kids can't
have the privilege to actually go there, but they can go there online.
The next page is the story of Madeline's trip to the library!