UNC Library and the School of Information and Library Science join the Open Content Alliance

Release date: 
February 6, 2006

photo of pillar of stoneThe University Library and the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have joined the Open Content Alliance (OCA).

The Open Content Alliance is a group of organizations from around the world that are building a permanent archive of digitized text and multimedia materials. The collections included in the archive are freely available to access and reuse by the global population, while “respecting the rights of content owners and contributors.”

The school is the first from a university to join the alliance; the library is the first to contribute manuscript materials.

The library will initially focus on a potential project to digitize manuscripts from its Southern Historical Collection.

“These are unique items such as letters, notes, diaries, handwritten records, even photos,” said Sarah C. Michalak, university librarian and associate provost for University Libraries. “They are fragile, sometimes they're hard to read, and they can be very difficult to convert to digital form. But each one tells a unique story. Making them available through the Open Content Alliance for the world to use is an exciting opportunity.”

In addition to documents, the library will contribute expertise acquired through its Documenting the American South digital library and related projects, says Michalak. “Since we launched DocSouth in 1996, we have committed ourselves to free and open access. The e-mails of thanks we receive from all over the world make it clear why libraries need to share their treasures this way and make it easy for people everywhere to use them.”

The School of Information and Library Science has been researching, developing and providing open source, open digital content through projects including:

  • ibiblio, one of the world's largest freely available collection of collections on the Internet. It was originally established as SunSite shortly after the development of the World Wide Web;
  • The Interaction Design Lab, which facilitates research and development in electronic information environments such as digital libraries and electronic publications;
  • The Open Video Project, a shared digital video collection that includes the entire NASA collection. Video of Alan Shepherd golfing on the moon, educational videos about the space shuttle and NASA's Kids Science News Network are just a few of the items included on the site.

School faculty will collaborate with the alliance on research and participate on alliance committees, as will UNC librarians.

“This joint initiative will allow us to expand the capability and influence of our research while engaging our students in a “living lab” enhancing their educational experience,” said Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, dean and professor of SILS. “We can provide expertise in the areas of digitization of not only books, but video and multimedia, metadata design and development, and digital curation and preservation."

"The Open Content Alliance is based on the fundamental principles of openness. We are delighted to participate in an effort that will expand the availability of and access to open content,” said Griffiths.

For more information about the Open Content Alliance visit the Web site: www.opencontentalliance.org/