To me, the question of ownership is less important than what, exactly, you'd
be selling. If I understand cataloging correctly (assuming these are books
rather than MS collections), your catalogers have collected information that
anybody with a lot of free time could, conceivably, have collected. I.e.,
anyone could sit there with the books and take down author, title, pub date,
etc. and collect it.
So I figure what you'd really be selling, should you charge the guy for it,
is the labor and technical expertise it took to collect all that information
in a single place and make it available to the general public. The
information itself doesn't belong to you any more than it would to someone
just opening the book off the shelf.
In a similar vein, I don't think OCLC "owns" the information they may sell
to members, they're only saving the purchaser the time & effort of
collecting it. If you feel that the work put in is worth money, and your
institution has no policy against selling that work to someone else, I guess
you could offer to sell him the records.
Daniel Sokolow, Archives Coordinator
David Taylor Archives
North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System
155 Community Drive
Great Neck, NY 11021
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