Premiere Digital Collection at USFSP

Almost a year ago, the Digital Collections Team at the Poynter Library started working with the Florida Humanities Council (FHC) to make available digitized versions of their publication Forum in the USFSP Digital Archive. Through this partnership between the Library and the Florida Humanities Council, the USFSP Digital Archive hosts online issues of Forum, a magazine published for the membership of that organization. Issues include a variety of short articles and vignettes that focus on various areas of the humanities, including history, literature, folklore, anthropology, arts, music, and dramatic performance, with a focus on Florida and various communities. Frequently, the editors of Forum publish issues that focus on a broader theme, such as environmental awareness or building a sense of place. Issues are hosted by the USFSP Digital Archive in an agreement that allows for broader exposure of the articles in Forum. The collection is almost complete, with only a few earlier issues still to be digitized.

The collection is full-text searchable and contains thumbnail images of each issue’s cover, as well as a detailed description of the contents of each issue. All authors who have written for the journal are indexed, as well. Check out the collection at:, scroll through the index of authors, check out the most current issue available in the archive (Summer 2013 as of today), and search on your favorite topic to discover some of the gems that the Florida Humanities Council has been bringing to its membership for years.

Our hope for the future is to be able to assist the FHC with making audio content they have captured widely available to the world, in addition to the written word represented through Forum.

Orphan Works in the United States

The U.S. Copyight Office has been looking into the issue of orphan works. In their background statement on the issue at: they note that: “The Office has long shared the concern with many in the copyright community that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works does not serve the objectives of the copyright system. For good faith users, orphan works are a frustration, a liability risk, and a major cause of gridlock in the digital marketplace. They have opened up a section for comments. One of the best letters, from the standpoint of libraries, was submitted in March 2013 by the New York Public Library at:

Educate yourself on the different points of view expressed on this site.

Orphan Works

One of the challenges faced by libraries, archives, and museums as they work to create digital collections is copyright and “orphan works.”  According to the EIFL Guide on Orphan Works,  “A work is described as an ‘orphan work’ if it is in copyright, and if the holder of the copyright cannot be identified, or cannot be found. It can be difficult and costly to trace the rightholder because:

  • the author may be unknown, or may be deceased leaving no locatable heirs;
  • where a publisher or institution holds the rights, it may have ceased to exist with no legal successor, or it may have merged with another entity – the records about copyright ownership may be lost;
  • the work may include within it other works, such as photographs or diagrams (called embedded works) with their own separate rights, one or more of which may be orphaned.”

The challenge as the EIFL Guide explains is that:

“Copyright protection is automatic from the moment that a work is written down. There are no requirements for the author to register the copyright or to notify any authority.2

  • Progressive extension of copyright terms make it more difficult to identify and locate rightholders in the future. Copyright protection in a literary work for an author typically lasts for about 120 years.3
  • Technological advances mean that more creative content than ever before is available online for discovery and re-use – books, blogs, articles, reports, videos, photos, music.

The problem of orphan works affects contemporary materials as well as older works, especially for online content that has no rights information or metadata identifying the rightholder.

Libraries hold tens of millions of works in their collections of high historical, social and educational value containing materials both in-copyright and in the public domain, published and unpublished, in-print and out-of-commerce.”

This is a problem faced around the world, even when details of copyright protection within countries vary. Check back for more on this topic.

Welcome to USFSP Digital Collections

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) is leading the way in the creation of digital collections of rare and unique materials for the benefit of the USFSP community and people around the world. Slightly over two years ago we created the USFSP Digital Archive which has grown to over 6500 items of scholarship, research, community engagement, and institutional memory. We are working to develop new collections of born-digital and digitized materials of interest to the University and the communities we serve. In this space, we will be highlighting our work, as well as drawing attention to efforts around the world to build and maintain collections of digital materials for the edification and entertainment of students, scholars, and the intellectually curious people of the world.

Check in with us, follow us, and join us on the road to discovery!