One of the greatest success stories of the digital library is exposing hitherto unknown or extremely rare works to an audience comprised of scholars and the international public. At Villanova’s Digital Library a source of these works includes the many individual donors that have decided to both preserve and make accessible historical treasures through “Digital Donation”. Our team digitizes the original items and places a preservation copy of the work in our digital collection; the original items are promptly returned to the owner. This ensures both exposure of the work to an audience of over 4,000 unique visitors a month (March 2008 statistics) and continued digital curation of the work even if disaster or the ravages of time erode the original physical copy to fragments. Digitally donated items are also fully described by professional catalogers using metadata standards to enhance the individual work’s findability. Finally, the work is exposed to the community of scholars via several metadata aggregators, including: OCLC’s Worldcat and Registry of Digital Masters; the Pennsylvania Digital Library (PADL); and OAIster using Open Archives Initiative.
Items that have been digitally donated include copies of published works, some annotated by notable personages:
by Walt Whitman (these are his memoirs from the time of the American Civil War; the donated copy is hand signed by Walt Whitman for Miss E.N. Morris):
(donated copy was owned and annotated by Herman Melville):
by Scott Grapin (signed and illustrated by the author).
Other works originally unpublished, and now published by the Digital Library for the first time as online works, include digitally donated letters, property and government documents relating to the history of the United States (Nagy and Humbert Collections), and local Radnor Township history (featuring donated works related to the Radnor Memorial Library and the Radnor Friends Meeting). And immediately waiting in the wings to be added to digital library collections later this year are other donated works including Villanova faculty scholarship, English genealogical research materials, and an extensive manuscript detailing the journey of a young man, there-and-back, to the California gold-fields in the Gold Rush.
If you own heritage materials, including letters, pamphlets, newspapers, rare books, or photographs, that you would like to see preserved and made accessible, please contact the Digital Library Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, not all materials are able to be digitized due to fragile or incomplete physical condition; in some cases works are not suitable for donation due to collection focus or intellectual property rights. All donated works must be in the public domain or the donor, who owns the intellectual property rights to an unpublished or in-copyright work, agrees to make the work accessible via a Creative Commons license. Many works in the Digital Library that have been digitally donated (or are owned by Villanova University ) are thus made available to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.