The Presence of Rare Irish Cultural Periodicals on JSTOR: Potential Contextual Lenses for Understanding Value

RAY, Anne (2017) The Presence of Rare Irish Cultural Periodicals on JSTOR: Potential Contextual Lenses for Understanding Value. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 231 - Rare Books and Special Collections.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1739
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Language: English (Original)
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Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/1739/1/231-ray-en.pdf

Abstract

The Presence of Rare Irish Cultural Periodicals on JSTOR: Potential Contextual Lenses for Understanding Value

JSTOR, a not-for-profit digital library of scholarly materials, collaborated on a project envisioned and led by the Queen’s University Belfast to create a large-scale digital collection of scholarship from and about Ireland. The collection included a group of rare cultural and political magazines from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, held by only a handful of library special collections worldwide. The final item was released in 2009; the more than 6 years of resulting usage offers a new opportunity to view the long-range outcomes of the creation of a digital special collection. This paper analyzes data on the usage of this set of rare publications on the JSTOR digital platform against worldwide library holdings information gathered through OCLC, in order to quantify the global circulation of the publications’ digital surrogates. Few such long-range analyses are available as benchmark information or as context for further study. These data can serve as potentially useful for those engaged in the creation of digitized special collections. They can also serve as a potential lens for understanding the value of these digitized versions to readers and scholars. However, the paper asserts, through examples and use scenarios, that this value cannot be well understood when divorced from the context of the mechanisms for access, or from the larger corpus in which the materials sit. Nor can this value be separated from the authority of the print. The paper will serve as one point of departure for interrogating the ways that usage data can or cannot show us what, specifically, occurs in the shift in special collections from print to digital. Additionally, as an aid to framing conversations about broadening the range of sources now discoverable online, the paper will propose considerations for building collaborations that include entities from across the ecosystem of scholarly communication.

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