Well-intentioned practice for putting digitized collections of unpublished materials online

Hulpmiddelen en Tools


In order to carry out their stewardship responsibilities and provide support for research and learning, cultural heritage repositories are required to provide access to material entrusted to their care. But how must they handle the rights issue with unpublished material?


This document intends to establish a reasonable community of practice in order to increase and improve access to collections of unpublished material for the purpose of furthering research and learning. It promotes a practical approach to identifying and resolving rights issues in line with professional and ethical standards.


This activity was initiated as a response to suggestions by staff from RLG Partnership institutions. The experts involved in the activity (a.o. OCLC), assumed that librarians and archivists often make extremely conservative assumptions about the risk involved in copying unpublished materials. For archivists, special collections librarians and museum curators, as well as the researcher (as the ultimate beneficiary), this activity has identified strategies for analyzing and developing acceptable risk behaviors and includes recommended practices for libraries and archives. Although the document was developed with US copyright law in mind, the spirit of the document is expected to inspire those beyond the US context and is relevant for administrators and (internal) legal advisors.

Hanneke Smulders