School Board approves updated contract to digitize yearbooks

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After rejecting a proposal last month to digitize the district’s old yearbooks due to privacy concerns, the Whitefish School Board earlier this month approved an updated plan.

During the April board meeting, Whitefish High School librarian Chani Craig presented a plan to archive and digitize the high school’s old yearbooks at little or no cost to Whitefish Schools through a proposed deal with the Oklahoma Correctional Institute.

Concerns over how those images might be used after the yearbooks are digitized stopped the proposal, but Craig said she had brought the district’s concerns to OCI in the meantime.

One issue was the way OCI said in the contract its “intent to use these images as a course of business.”

Craig said OCI clarified that course of business refers to “images, that they’re going to use for marketing purposes only” toward nonprofit institutions.

“So they’re specifically doing a community service project for educational facilities, libraries — those types of institutions,” she said.

Similarly, worries about images from Whitefish yearbooks being sold to for-profit websites and businesses were squashed.

“They don’t have a plan to pursue any relationships with for-profit vendors as that would go against the Digital Millennial Copyright Act, which is something that allows schools to legally use these materials,” Craig said.

In the materials originally presented to the board, it was outlined that while the district would still own everything, OCI would have rights to the archives and will not use the images obtained “in any manner not consistent with their original intended purpose as yearbook material, or in a way that may be deemed as disrespectful to persons within.”

Craig said after talking with the OCI representative, she felt comfortable with the explanation of how the yearbook information would be handled.

Trustee Ruth Harrison said once the privacy concerns went away, the digitized yearbooks didn’t seem much different than a physical copy.

“So essentially, it’s really just like having a hard copy in a different form. Because already people can come in and go through whatever yearbooks we have,” she said.

The issue of whether the district should pay extra to retain all rights for the images came up in the April meeting.

While that seemed like a necessity then, Trustee Shannon Hanson said he’s no longer concerned.

“I don’t think it’s important, personally,” he said. “I did, but with this clarification I don’t.”

Under the proposal, the high school would allow yearbooks up to 10 years old to be digitized and archived, with yearbooks from 1950 through 1990 saved free of charge and the rest of the books archived at a cost of $10 to $20 each. The library would pay those costs from its book budget.

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