10 years, Shifting Gears

In 2007, OCLC Research and the Society of American Archivists convened the Digitization Matters meeting to explore barriers preventing institutions from scaling up digitization of special collections. At that time, the Google Books project and the Open Content Alliance had opened a floodgate of digitization of books in libraries, which caused us to ask, what inhibits us from digitizing special collections materials at high volume? The report Shifting Gears: Gearing Up to Get into the Flow (written by Ricky Erway and Jennifer Schaffner) summarized those ideas for making digitized special collections more ubiquitously available.

Much has changed in the library and external landscape in the ten years since Shifting Gears was published. Amidst this change, we continue to seek how we can effectively digitize special collections and improve discovery and access, no matter the portal or platform. It is not only critical that our collections are made available on the internet, we must provide them frictionless passage to the environments where our communities seek them.

We are republishing Shifting Gears on its tenth anniversary as OCLC Research and the OCLC Research
Library Partnership reconsider our work agenda around unique and distinctive materials. Our intention is
that this report, in addition to other work we produce in the coming year, will provide a framework for
community action.

Over the coming months, we’ll hosting a discussion here on HangingTogether about how Shifting Gears does or does not hold up over time. I was joined by Michelle Light (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and Erik Moore (University of Minnesota) at the ACRL 2017 Conference to start that conversation. We’ll continue that here and hope that you will join in!

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