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Building the Digital Smithsonian Libraries

Building the Digital Smithsonian Libraries, by Erin Thomas, Smithsonian Libraries (May 13, 2011).

As you may already know, the Libraries has been busy digitizing scientific legacy literature as part of the global partnership that makes up the Biodiversity Heritage Library for some time now — the BHL recently published its 90,500th volume! But as you may not have yet noticed, the Libraries has also begun scanning select titles from our History, Art, and Culture collections as well.

The Libraries scans roughly 150 History, Art, and Culture titles each month, and those scans are freely available from the Smithsonian Collection at the Internet Archive. At press time, the collection holds 3,838 items!

Smithsonian formally adopts new FOIA-like policy

The Smithsonian Institution is not subject to FOIA but has been using a policy for releasing records modeled on FOIA since November. On Monday the Institution formally adopted a new policy for responding to records requests, bowing to pressure from the Senate and open government groups.

“When considering requests for Smithsonian information, the Smithsonian will apply a presumption of disclosure. It will be the policy of the Smithsonian to disclose information unless this Directive clearly provides otherwise, except where disclosure would be harmful to an interest protected by an exemption. Where release would not be harmful to the Smithsonian or to an interest protected by an exemption, the Smithsonian may choose to release information that falls within an existing exemption.”


“Smithsonian trade secrets and Smithsonian commercial or financial information directly related to the Smithsonian’s revenue-generating activities, including fund-raising and development activities, and where release of the information would be likely to cause the Smithsonian substantial competitive harm or impair its ability to carry out its charitable and educational mission by raising private funds.”