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  • Mind the Gap. Digital is Old and Digital is New but Books Fill in the Middle.

Mind the Gap. Digital is Old and Digital is New but Books Fill in the Middle.

The Harold B. Lee Library has a vast collection of information available in digital formats.

We provide online access to many of the latest scholarly journals and databases.

From our own collections we have scanned thousands of old books, diaries and small items such as early French political pamphlets (from 1547) and letters from Philip II, King of Spain (from 1592).

All told we have digitized well over a million pages along with thousands of photographs and we just keep adding more.

But if you take a good look at what we, and many other organizations, are providing, you will see a gap. We are able to digitize most books printed before 1923 and we can provide content that was “born digital” in the last decade.  But there is almost a century of scholarship and literature that is in limbo, or more accurately it is in books and printed journals.

Copyright laws protect the authors and publisher who produced printed materials. We, as a library cannot change the rules and we have no desire to cheat scholars of their rights. At the same time we are concerned that people assume that everything useful is online. The fact is, there is a world of knowledge that you can’t access through any electronic device. When students and faculty review the literature on a topic they need to have access to items that show the origins of the knowledge and ideas in our digital collections. Those items are available on our shelves and for the foreseeable future we will keep them easily accessible along with our digital resources.