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08-May-2006

Medical Digital Library - IAMI Discussion

I have submitted my following post to IAMI Discussion Forum to start the ball rolling on Medical Digital Library.

T start with let me highlight that discussion about libraries is nothing but about Standards, Standards and Standards.  I would refer to a site called Digital Library Federation - http://www.diglib.org/ and its sub-area under http://www.diglib.org/produce.htm.  For those who have some plan to build a digital collection – a document at NISO Standards Site” A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections” - <http://www.niso.org/framework/Framework2.html > is highly recommended. This Framework has two purposes. First, to provide an overview of some of the major components and activities involved in the creation of good digital collections. Second, to provide a framework for identifying, organizing, and applying existing knowledge and resources to support the development of sound local practices for creating and managing good digital collections. It is intended for two audiences: for organizations planning projects to create digital collections, and funding organizations that want to encourage the development of good digital collections. However it should be clear that "digital library" is not merely equivalent to a digitized collection with information management tools. It is rather an environment to bring together collections, services, and people in support of the full life cycle of creation, dissemination, use, and preservation of data, information, and knowledge. < http://genie.sir.arizona.edu/236/ >

Content is the key to a digital library like it is for the physical library. However, Intellectual Property Rights issues are more complex for Digital Libraries. This is due to the fact that even a single digital copy can serve the whole world. Therefore publishers are obviously a worried lot. Therefore they normally extend their protection of rights covered by Copy-Right Laws by means of contracts and licensing. While the publishers are trying to lobby for greater rights over Digital Content, the academics are in the picture now for a movement called “Open Access” < http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm >. Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What make it possible are the Internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. Open Access is possible in academics because the authors’ motive for publishing article is never the financial gain but the appreciation of the peers. Open Access is of two types - Publishing and Self-archiving. Publishing is like the traditional journal publishing – only difference is that access is free to end-user [For example http://www.biomedcentral.com/ ]. Self-archiving is where the authors having rights over their documents upload them publicly accessible repositories [for example http://openmed.nic.in ]. Now about 90% plus [ http://romeo.eprints.org/stats.php ] of traditional journals [under the “Open Access” pressure] have allowed their authors to self-archive their articles in one form or the other. It has to be kept here in mind that Copyrights are originally with the authors without any formality or requirement to register with any agency. However, authors were unethically exploited by commercial publishers take asking to transfer rights in their favor before a manuscript can be published. As authors’ main objective has always been to maximum readership of their work, they happily surrendered their rights.  But things are changing now fast. Many countries are in process to mandate that research results of publicly funded must be made public.

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