A preface by way of propositions:

   * Every item has a potential audience: somebody, somewhere, someday, will need virtually any item ever published and collected.
   * Citizens of free and democratic societies require freely available information.
   * Amherst College possesses extraordinary information available nowhere else on earth.
   * But like much of the world’s information, much of Amherst’s information is unavailable to much of the world’s populace.

Consider just three flagship collections at Amherst: Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts; Japanese diplomatic papers; and the thousands of books in Special Collections owned by no other institution—anywhere. Then consider how few people within and beyond Amherst know about these collections, let alone have access to them.

The library is committed to distributing these collections by digitizing them and making them available without charge to anyone on the Internet.

Our goal, in a sense, is to incorporate these collections into the universe of shared information. We aim for unlimited reciprocity, a network of material available without restrictions to students in India, scholars at Ivy League universities, residents of Appalachia, and the next generation of students in the developing world.

We see digitization as both a selfless and a self-interested endeavor: selfless in its determination to share all we own with anybody who needs it; self-interested in the press and prestige it will bring the College.

Just a few examples of what we can digitize with this fund or with additional contributions:

* Any of the thousands of books that Amherst, and nobody else in the world, owns - $30 per book
* Incredible collections of Japanese diplomatic papers, invaluable to scholars of Japanese history and politics:
   - Doshisha Collection - $50,000
   - Niijima Collection - $50,000
   - Uchimura Collection - $50,000
* The Amherst Student newspaper - $8,000 per year
* Bloom Archive, a phenomenal collection of the alternative newspapers - $500,000
* Complete run of the Amherst yearbook, The Olio - $5,000
* Our incomparable collection of ornithology books - $50 per book x 1,500 books = $75,000
* Manuscripts and letters from 19th-century Amherst missionaries - $50 per folder
* Rare books unlikely to be digitized by other libraries - $50 per book x 11,059 books = $552,950
* 50 years of deteriorating film stock from Amherst football games - $200,000
* The original library of the College—a collection of approximately 2,000 books held by Amherst in 1820. Nota bene: digitizing this collection may finally put to rest the rumor that Amherst stole its first books from Williams - $60,000
* A comprehensive electronic collection and online exhibition of Amherst’s Emily Dickinson papers, to be created in collaboration with the Emily Dickinson Museum - $20,000

Interest from this fund would also support:

* Digitization equipment - $30,000
* Software and hardware to archive and display digitized collections - $150,000

More about the Library's Digital Programs department