Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > November 2015 > Open Access to Cultural Collections

Open Access to Cultural Collections

Convening Global Copyright Experts

How do cultural institutions protect the rights of authors while creating avenues for greater access to cultural works? How can works never intended for publication or commercial use be made publicly accessible? Modern cultural institutions across the globe, like the National Library, face complexities and questions like these, many never imagined by generations past. Concepts such as open access and digital publishing are at the forefront of an ever-evolving conversation about intellectual property which must balance the abundance of new possibilities for the dissemination of knowledge with the protection of copyright holders' rights. Leading experts from across the globe recently gathered at NLI to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural institutions engaged in providing public access to their collections.
Copyright ConferenceThe conference, generously supported by the Arcadia Fund, included closed lecture and discussion sessions as well as a final session open to the public. It sought to review challenges facing institutions engaged in providing open access to their collections, increase public awareness of the importance of free access to cultural collections and explore new ways for them to collaborate in expanding that access. In addressing these goals, conference participants including senior NLI staff and copyright experts from the United States, Europe, Israel and New Zealand, presented personal and institutional experiences and expertise related to a wide array of pressing questions facing the world's cultural institutions. In addition to advancing the general discussion of these issues, conclusions from the conference will be included in a policy paper designed to further open access to the treasures in the NLI collections.

The Library has recently opened free online access to several historical collections including historic Jewish newspapers, photographs of pre-State Israel, ephemera, traditional music, and personal archives of cultural leaders and intellectuals who played important roles in Jewish history. Ongoing projects include digitization of Arabic press from the British Mandate period, the creation of the International Digital Library of Hebrew Manuscripts, and continuous archiving of born-digital Internet material. These projects dovetail with the conference and other initiatives through which NLI is strategically placing itself at the forefront of a fascinating discussion with global implications.