Thursday, August 21, 2008

U.S. Government Printing Office & digitization

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) issued a request for proposals for a mass digitization effort equaling 90 - 132 million pages. The GPO wants the work to be done at no cost to the government. The RFP states:

The objective of this digitization effort, and the driving factor in GPO digitization, is to ensure that these materials are available, in the public domain, for no-fee permanent public access through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

It also says:

In exchange, the contractor or contractors shall be able to maintain a collection of files produced in the process for inclusion in their collections (e.g., search indices, book search sites).

While that seems pretty bold, consider that Google and others are digitizing materials at no cost to their institutional partners. The question now becomes who is big enough and interested enough in this content? Who has capacity or can create capacity? Four vendors have already added themselves to the "interested vendor" list. I'll be interested to see who else adds their names.

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