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Subject:

commercial exploitation

From:

"Jess Gardner" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jess Gardner

Date:

Mon, 14 Aug 2000 10:56:35 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (100 lines)

Dear list,
I contacted the list in Spring to enquire about the experience of 
other repositories in the realm of commercial publication (microform 
or electronic) of archival / rare book collections.  The responses 
were extremely helpful, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to 
report back to the list. A copy of my original query is provided 
below. 

I was particularly keen to learn about the following: cost vs income 
to the repository, perceptions of the actual promotional benefits, 
production difficulties (especially from a conservation angle). Since 
some of the responses were confidential, let me just summarise 
here and explain that the sum of experience on all fronts were, 
perhaps unsurprisingly, inconclusive. 

On the question of cost vs income, the evidence that royalty 
payments cover costs is inconclusive. Most repositories do not 
appear to have formally quantified cost vs income on this score so 
the findings were based on impressions rather than firm figures. 
The cost to the repository depends on a number of factors, but the 
most common perception was that whilst commercial exploitation 
of the collections in this manner can superficially appear to raise 
income, there is in many cases an actual cost to the repository in 
terms of staff time spent planning and organising the production 
process. Perhaps I was naive thinking it could be otherwise.

However, this is not to say the experience was for all a negative 
one. Some repositories have felt positive benefits of commercial 
returns, either as income or in terms of profile-raising. Participation 
in the commercial market necessarily involves a risk, and the 
uniqueness and individuality of the source material obviously 
makes comparison between the fortunes of different products 
complex. 

There were also valuable warnings from some of you as regards the 
need to carefully monitor and supervise the actual production 
process, since some of those physically involved in producing the 
surrogates were not as careful as one might hope. 

Questions of access in this realm are also complex. Microform or 
digital surrogates do increase remote access and some users, 
some of whom would not otherwise have accessed the material, 
are satisfied with using the surrogate. Other researchers of course 
still want to see the originals (and other means of increasing 
access to these groups, like travel grants, exist in some cases).

In summary, the advantages of commercial production of 
surrogates in the realm of access, profile-raising, and (to some 
degree) conservation, do exist. But it is also true that the 
commerical benefits of the venture as regards income remain more 
ambiguous than might at first be hoped. 

Again, many thanks to those list-members who responded so fully 
with details of their experience as these have proved extremely 
useful as a means to realistically focus our thoughts at Leeds 
about commercial exploitation of certain collections through 
microform or electronic publication. 
Jessica Gardner
(Special Collections, Leeds University Library)

From:           	Jess Gardner 
<[log in to unmask]>
To:             	[log in to unmask]
Subject:        	Commercial Publications
Date sent:      	Wed, 5 Apr 2000 14:54:24 +0100

Dear all,
I'd be very grateful to hear on or off-list from others about their 
experience of commercial publication (microform or electronic) of 
their archival or rare book collections.

I'm particularly keen to gain an idea of i) cost vs benefit - I realise 
most publishers bear production costs but wonder if the resulting 
income to repositories from royalties, which I suspect is often 
small, balances against staff input at either the planning or 
production stages ii) how positive experience it was overall - what 
hassles were involved working with the publishers or those 
physically handling material iii) what the promotion benefits have 
been - particularly, if discernable, whether there has been any 
impact on use of the originals.

I apologise for such a convoluted query - perhaps replies off list are 
best - but really am very interested in learning from the experience 
of others in this area in view of Leeds University Library exploring 
the possibility of exploiting its collections in this manner.  
With thanks, 
Jessica Gardner
  
__________________________________________________________
Jessica Gardner
Special Collections
Brotherton Library
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
UK
(0113) 2336379


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