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You are here: Home Digital Library What is the Digital Library? Collection Management

Collection Management

1.    Introduction

The Forced Migration Digital Library is a discrete, focused and searchable collection of full-text documents. The initial collection includes contributions from the following institutional partners: the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University, the Forced Migration Program at Columbia University, and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. Future contributors will include the Czech Helsinki Committee and the American University of Cairo.

Other organizations with relevant documents that are interested in participating in the digital library initiative are encouraged to contact the Forced Migration Online development team by e-mailing

2.    Selecting Resources for the Collection

2.1 Scope of the collection

The content coverage of the digital library and the parameters of its collection (subject, geographic coverage, language) are outlined in greater detail in the FMO: Introduction and Overview document.

2.2 Criteria for selecting resources

The scope and audience of FMO, as defined in FMO: Introduction and Overview, are the most important factors to be considered when selecting documents for the Digital Library. At the same time, since selection is undertaken by institutional contributors, it will reflect their specific subject expertise in the field of forced migration. Still, several general rules of thumb are applicable to the selection process regardless of subject area:

First, consider the nature of a digital library:

  • Documents are digitized. Deciding to scan a document inserts an extra level of assessment into the selection process: What is the value to the user of including a particular title - is it especially noteworthy, authoritative, substantive? Does it include original thinking or does it merely echo what has been reported elsewhere? The reputation of the author, the length of the document, and the currency of the topic addressed therefore may factor in more highly in the selection hierarchy.

  • Digital collections tend to be smaller and more discrete. Building a balanced collection therefore is particularly important; different perspectives from different types of authors/publishers should be reflected (i.e., governments vs. NGOs, practitioners vs. academics, etc.), different geographic regions should be represented, and so forth.

Next, past experience has demonstrated that the following should not be included:

  • items that look published (e.g., glossy reports, photocopies of journal articles, etc.);

  • titles that you know have been published or that indicate they will be published (e.g., conference papers that re-appear as journal articles or chapters in books, etc.);

  • papers that are marked as "draft" copies or that state they are "not for citation";

  • documents containing sensitive details, such as the names of asylum-seekers, or other information that identifies individuals, such as conference participants’ lists;

  • documents that contain incitements to violence or that promote terrorist activities;

  • leaflets, brochures, press releases, or other ephemeral or purely descriptive materials;

  • items with very poor print quality, significant spelling errors, or deficient language usage.

Finally, if in doubt, you cannot go wrong if you use the same selection criteria that you normally apply in a traditional library setting.

2.3 Types and formats of resources in the digital library

The digital library is comprised of what is referred to as "grey" literature; these documents are generally unpublished materials and, therefore, not easily located using traditional library finding aids. In the future, some published items will be incorporated into the collection, namely articles from the back runs of key journals in the field.

Currently, the digital library contains documents in text and PDF formats. In the future, it is envisioned that photographs, audio and video will also be included in the collection.

3.    Copyright Clearance

Copyright permission is sought for every title that is included in the digital library. Some documents are made available on a "best endeavour" basis. That is, if two attempts to contact the author prove unsuccessful, then his/her document will be included in the digital library with the proviso that it can be removed if a complaint is lodged.

For more information about the copyright clearance process, please refer to the article entitled "Copyright Clearance in the Refugee Studies Centre Digital Library Project", RLG DigiNews: Volume 4, Number 5

4.    Maintaining the Collection

A preservation policy will be developed in the near future.

Last updated Sep 21, 2011