I currently work in a public library and as I worked my way through the readings this week I my thoughts consistently drifting back to the conundrum of digital comics in libraries. While NINCH is more focused on academic/cultural digitization I felt that a lot of the same questions that would be asked in the course of such a project were very similar and adaptable for discussing digital comics in libraries. Many of the questions posed as part of the NINCH selection process are very similar to those asked in the selection process of any materials; files need to be optimized for whoever is using them, capability for broad use, management of the digital resources. It’s no surprise that in a world of digital content that comics are also going digital, also many companies are ceasing their print publications in favor of digital subscriptions (ex. Shonen Jump) which unfortunately shuts libraries out at this time.
The problem for libraries is that there are few avenues for them to pursue digital comics. First there is the question of whether a library should offer digital comics? There would likely be a significant start-up cost for a management system, maintaining that system, ensuring all the necessary data is collected, and for the content themselves. Is it worth it for the library to begin developing such a collection? While there are a lot of devices that could utilize digital comic there are also a fair number that could not, if most comic users don’t have devices that could access and utilize the content it would be unwise for a library to invest such a project. There is also the question of getting the content, as copyright would prevent a library from digitizing their collection so libraries need an avenue for purchasing. There are several companies that sell digital comics to consumers but there are very few that sell them to libraries and most of these are in the beta stage, so if the company abandons it then what? Assuming that all these elements aligned there would still be the question of what content should be acquired first.
So as can be seen from the example of digital comic in libraries the NINCH does provide an adaptable model that could be applied to public library digital collections, beyond those that are culturally focused (ie. local history). The project/process of adding digital comic libraries is one that would need to be overseen by someone as well to determine if it is feasible and effective use of resource for libraries.