January 25, 2022

New Report: ARL and Ithaka S+R Release Findings on Sustainability of Digitized Special Collections

New from the Association of Research Libraries and Ithaka S+R.

From an ARL Announcement:

ARL and Ithaka S+R today released Appraising our Digital Investment: Sustainability of Digitized Special Collections in ARL Libraries, a report on findings from an ARL-Ithaka S+R survey of ARL libraries on the range of activities and expenses that libraries undertake to support their digitized special collections.

“Hundreds of special collections have been digitized by ARL libraries in the past two decades and the majority of our members view digitization of rare and unique materials as critical to their future,” said ARL Executive Director Elliott Shore. “This survey offers a close look at the practices, attitudes, costs, and revenues associated with post-digitization activity.”


Librarians can now take advantage of technology that allows them to make their rare and unique collections available to the world,” noted Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R Managing Director. “Funding sources to sustain these collections and the range of activities involved in preserving and maintaining them, however, is clearly still a question that needs community attention.”

The three-part survey, designed with input from the ARL community, was sent to all ARL member libraries in the US and Canada and completed by 89 library directors, a response rate of 70%. In addition to the institutional perspective provided by library directors, library staff responded to other sections to offer insight into activities and costs for all of their institution’s digitized collections, and questions about individual projects.

The report’s lead author, Nancy Maron, Ithaka S+R program director for sustainability and scholarly communications, will present the study findings in a webcast scheduled for Thursday, March 7, 10:30–11:30 a.m., Eastern standard time. The webcast will also feature experts from the ARL special collections community, including Lisa Carter, Anne Kenney, and Ann Thornton. Register online.

Direct to Full Text Report: Appraising our Digital Investment: Sustainability of Digitized Special Collections in ARL Libraries (52 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.