The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press was the first university press to sign an agreement with the Internet Archive to scan older print books for which it had no digital copies to make them available for one-at-a-time lending, a model known as Controlled Digital Lending.
“These are works that are available through Controlled Digital Lending, but where the list of what’s available is curated by us rather than by libraries,” said Amy Brand, director of the MIT Press. “We are a mission-driven publisher and we have been very proactive in the open access space for a long time. It’s been a top priority to me to digitize everything I could and make as many of our scholarly monographs open as possible.”
That said, there are concerns that the digitize-and-lend will hurt book sales and presses’ own efforts to make digital books available to libraries. The ebooks of concern are newer titles and trade books, noted Brand, while the works that the MIT Press is contributing to the CDL program are typically older back-list titles that were never digitized and that the Press is not currently selling, including works that are out of print entirely.
“We also give the author an opt-out courtesy notice. We think they should be comfortable with the works being made openly available in this way,” Brand said, noting that MIT Press’s approach is always author driven.
After MIT announced its relationship with Internet Archive, the Press received positive news coverage and has been actively helping to involve other university presses. About a dozen others including Cornell University Press and the University of Colorado Press, have come on board with digitizing titles.
“I would like to see scholarly work that has not previously been digitized made available,” Brand said. “I believe strongly that scientific and scholarly knowledge should be shared as broadly as possible. I think university presses have a big role to play. The university press community is much more likely to be supportive of an approach to Controlled Digital Lending that includes, rather than excludes, publisher curation of works that libraries digitize and lend, in order to protect the ability of mission-driven presses to sustain themselves and keep publishing high-quality scholarship.”