Marsden Online Archive

The University of Otago Library has launched a new online archive that for the first time allows researchers to search and mine Samuel Marsden’s historic journals and letters with technological online tools. The documents, detailing life on the nation’s first missions, were brought back from London more than a century ago by Thomas Hocken and have been transcribed by Retired Associate Professor Gordon Parsonson.

From the Marsden Archive website:
“This was a collaborative project undertaken by the University of Otago Library and the University’s Centre for Research on Colonial Culture. This project to create the Marsden Online Archive set out to achieve a number of objectives including:

  • Creating digital objects from historically significant, unique, items in the Hocken Collections.
  • Providing appropriate metadata for these resources, so to enrich contextual information and extend discoverability.
  • Identifying and deploying appropriate technical and discovery standards to ensure accessibility, preservation and curation.
  • Developing an appropriate platform, structure and web interface to make the collections useful as a research asset.”

Vanessa Gibbs, Business Analyst and Mining Marsden Project Manager at the University of Otago Library, speaks about the use of Creative Commons in the Mining Marsden Project.

“The Project Sponsor for the Marsden Online Archive was already familiar with Creative Commons licensing. He recommended the use of the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ) licence to Gordon Parsonson (the copyright owner of the transcripts). We chose that particular licence because we wanted to make sure Gordon would continue to get attribution for his work, but we didn’t want to stop other researchers being able to build upon the material.

“From there it was an easy decision to use the same agreement for the digital images and metadata. The Creative Commons licence structure provides a clear and easily understood framework for the application of copyright licences. It was easy for us to apply the licence and it is easy for our users to understand the terms under which they can use the material.

“As we are using the same licence for both the transcripts and the images and metadata, we have set up a terms of use webpage. Here we detail when Gordon needs to be attributed and when the Hocken Collections needs to be attributed. This way there is no confusion for our users.

“We’ve had really great buy-in from staff on the Marsden Online Archive. They are now more open to using a Creative Commons licence for other material. I guess they see Marsden as a test case for using a CC licence and so far it has been very successful.

“There are already a number of other projects that Library staff are discussing using Creative Commons licensing for. Hopefully the success of the Marsden Online Archive will highlight the usefulness of the CC licensing framework.”

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