Director, Digital Humanities Lab
Many academic research libraries now spend more on electronic licensed content than they do on print materials. These commercial databases offer the promise of easy access to vast quantities of digitized material, but are under restrictions of both copyright and licensing agreements. Robots Reading Vogue, a project of the Yale University Library DHLab, is an effort to build DH tools on top of such an archive, allowing exploration and experimentation on 400,000 pages of Vogue magazine while still respecting copyright. Yale Library worked with ProQuest, the company which digitized Vogue for Condé Nast, to secure full access to the raw data underlying the commercial product. Any user of the site can explore patterns in the data, using affordances such as an n-gram search tool, but the hyperlinks to individual articles only resolve if the user has access privileges to the ProQuest content. We hope this projects serves as one possible model for ensuring researchers’ rights to fully explore the contents of vendor-digitized, licensed content.