Today’s post comes from Onaona Guay, digitization partnerships coordinator at the National Archives.
Digitization partnerships present an opportunity for increased access to historical government information through the increased availability of information technology products and services. NARA has shown that partnerships with private, public, non-profit, educational, and Government institutions to digitize and make available holdings can be a powerful model.
NARA has enjoyed a successful partnership with Ancestry since 2008. NARA has also partnered with Fold3, Ancestry’s sister site, since 2007. In the month of June alone, NARA records received 8.8 million views on Ancestry.com, and 2.5 million views on Fold3.com.
We are renewing our partnership agreement with Ancestry.com and Fold3.com, and welcome public feedback. Here are the major updates to the agreement:
- NARA effectively shortened the embargo period by 12-24 months by starting the embargo clock after scanning is completed rather than waiting for the partner to publish the collection. This incentivizes the partner to post quickly, rather than waiting for an entire project to be completed. It also allows NARA to monitor when the embargo period should start.
- In very rare circumstances, a Partner would digitize material and not post it online immediately, but would wait until the collection was completely finished. The updated agreement drives the Partners to post segments of large collections immediately rather than waiting for the entire collection to be completed.
- NARA will have the latitude to recover almost any cost associated with supporting Partners.
- The updated agreement provides NARA the right to not recover costs from Partners. NARA will spell out all cost recovery in the project plan.
- Outlines NARA’s commitment to protecting PII and more specifically spells out the Partners’ responsibilities if PII is identified.
The agreement will be available for comment until August 21, 2015.
Please consult NARA’s Principles for Partnerships for more information about our digitization partnerships.
Update: August 13, 2015. Thank you for your comments. In response to several questions and comments, a few themes have emerged that we wanted to respond to:
How will records digitized by a partner be available to the public?
– Records digitized and made available by partners are available online for free in all NARA research rooms across the country. You can use our public access PCs or NARA’s wifi to reach the sites for free.
Will NARA receive digital copies of the material digitized by the partners?
– NARA receives a set of images and metadata from the digitization partner when the project is complete.
Will NARA put the digitized material online?
– NARA makes records digitized by Ancestry available in our online Catalog once the five year embargo period has elapsed. Records in the National Archives Catalog are available for free to the public.
Why does NARA partner with outside organizations?
– To complete digitization projects, we have partnered with both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Although they may be interested in genealogy records, the specific records these organizations are interested in can vary. Sometimes only one type of partner may be interested in a record series. We digitize in order to get our records online and expand access to them. We cannot do this by ourselves and so we are working with partners and looking into other avenues (see our Digitization Strategy for additional approaches) to make access happen. NARA has established principles for working with partners and you can read them at our NARA Principles for Partnerships page. (See our Strategic Plan for more information about our Strategic Goals.)