These days it is becoming much easier to have access to resources which in the past we would have to travel miles and miles to briefly be able to scan through. We were limited to the geographical locations where such resources could be found, and the opening hours of the institutions that host them. Additional costs would also have to be considered regarding accommodation, transportation and subsistence when away from home. Above all, it was a time consuming activity to have to travel all the way to one place just to collect information.
Photo: Courtesy by LitSciMed
Of course, those same places are still worth visiting, as it is the case of the British Library or other World Digital Libraries, for instances. The historical past they represent, the opportunity to get closer to original artefacts, etc, are valuable. There is and, I think I can say, there will always be an added value to the face-to-face (physical) experience. But when that is not possible, wouldn’t you wish you could still have access to it all?
Doing research is not only time consuming, it is equally cost demanding, especially when we need to access research artefacts that are beyond our local reach. So, the web can provide alternative modes of accessing what we need.
Recently new initiatives have started to emerge. Parallel to the Google Digital Collections, which has generated quite a debate about making such data available World Wide Web, other institutions are now looking at ways of widening the access to their collections. The British Library, for instance, has just announced that it will establish a partnership with Amazon’s printing on demand, CreateSpace, to make available a large collection of out-of-print 19th century titles.
That, to me, is spectacular! It not only means that I can have access to BL resources from anywhere in the world. It also means that such rarities will now be preserved and made available in a new format.
Harvard Web Accessible Collections is also another amazing resource.
Other digital collections I have recently come across, include:
And here is a website, which I just found while I was writing this post, and which lists a great deal of them
And then of course there is also the institutional repositories, such as the one we have at our University. And Open Access Journals. And academic Theses repositories [ EThOS, Theses Canada, etc ]. All of them are of use. Research, definitely, does not belong in a dusty shelf in some Library. It deserves to be shared. It definitely wants to be made accessible, so more people can have the possibility of learning from it.
I wonder which other tools and digital resources available out there researchers are using to support their research, and minimize time and travel costs…?
I look forward to your views and experiences. 😉