Digital Collections Workshop: Standardized Rights Statements

The purpose of this workshop is to understand what clear rights statements on digital collections mean for staff and users. We will talk about how standardized statements have been crafted and by whom. The workshop will also review, through exercises and active discussion, how they may be used and why we need to adopt standardized rights statements with digital collections.

We assume that you have taken the Risk Management and Rights workshop prior to attending this one.

The workshop is discussion based and requires preparation, active participation, and a follow-up homework assignment in order to fully engage the material.


Leigh A. Grinstead, Digital Services Consultant, LYRASIS

Supporting Staff

Photo of Elizabeth Duell

Elizabeth Duell

Program Support & Events Manager

Orbis Cascade Alliance

Work Phone: (541) 246-2470

Pronouns: she/her/hers


2018 April 11, 9 am PDT


Before attending the workshop, please do the following preparations. Please note that these will take you about 2 ½ hours to complete.

Bring your answers to the workshop. They form the basis of about 25 minutes of discussion.

Review the instructions and ground rules, and ensure that you are joining from your own computer and have both a microphone and headphones. The workshop is not a broadcast; it is a discussion.

Pine State University

Pine State University (PSU) is a medium-size four year-university in the mountain state of Pine with a full suite of offerings that includes the humanities, the sciences, business, and education schools. They have a special collections and archives division in the university library with about 20,000 linear feet of collections that focus on water resources management, 21st century literature, regional history, and the history of the university. The department was established in the 1910s as a ‘treasure room’ and was largely overseen by the library dean’s secretary until it became a full department in the 1960s. Their staff of four includes a department head, two curators, and one paraprofessional, as well as 60 hours a week of student labor.

PSU makes its unique and local collections available through a consortial ILS, a consortial database of finding aids, a Digital Asset Management system, and an institutional repository. They have accessions records in a mix of formats including the ‘treasure room’ card catalog, some paper files, and (since 1998) an Access database.

The archives has a very active instructional support role for traditional academic products (e.g. papers, books) but is making some headway in supporting digital humanities teaching. The department staff is really excited about the national-level work on standardized rights statements and is eager to clarify the copyright status of at least a selection of their materials, but has no one on staff has much copyright expertise. The new library dean is very keen on moving forward with digital humanities support; she is joined by an equally enthusiastic humanities faculty member. That same faculty member has suggested that the staff just put the university’s copyright on all digital reproductions to avoid the time-consuming process of actually determining copyright status. The university legal counsel, who spends most of her time defending the university against neighbors upset by the university’s building projects, resolving scandals in the athletic department, and creating agreements with supporters of new construction, agrees with the dean. There are no copyright lawyers in the state of Pine.


Using the Hirtle chart and the workshop discussion, examine rights statements in at least one local digital collection. Write down what you think the copyright status of the collection is, and why. Then, email your example and the copyright status to your instructor. She will give you individual written feedback.

Due dates for homework:

  • Workshop January 24, 2018: Homework due February 6, 2018
  • Workshop February 6, 2018: Homework due February 23, 2018
  • Workshop April 11: Homework due April 25, 2018

Last, please fill out this short evaluation so we can continue to refine and improve this workshop.

This workshop supported in part with a grant awarded by the Oregon Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) program of the Oregon State Library.