Independent Voices

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    Independent Voices, the initial collection offered by Reveal Digital (a limited liability company based in Ann Arbor, MI), is a set of digitized U.S. newspapers, journals, and magazines originally published by the alternative press during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

    Digitization of the collection is financed through tiered contributions from participating libraries over four years (2013 to 2017). The collection is available only to subscribers during the funding/digitization campaign, and for a two-year embargo period thereafter. Following this period, the collection reportedly will become open access if the funding threshold is achieved. 

    Independent Voices, initially launched in 2013, is accessible via Non-subscribers may search the collection, but only a portion is currently accessible to the public.

    May 31, 2024 4:27pm
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    Independent Voices, the initial Reveal Digital collection, presents a set of digitized U.S. newspapers, journals, and magazines published by the alternative press during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Production of the collection is financed through scaled contributions from participating libraries, and the collection will be released over four years.

    The materials to be digitized are broadly described on the project website as serials produced by "American youth. Feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals and the New Left, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Latinos, and members of the LGBT communities." Content has been sourced from the original publications held in the special collection libraries at Northwestern University and Duke University. Additional content will be sourced from institutions such as University at Buffalo, Michigan State University, University of Texas, New York University, and others (see site for complete source list).

    Titles in the collection will fall into eight categories. Collections/titles digitized (as of March 2018) include:

    • Black American Press: 6 titles
    • Campus underground press: 75 titles
    • Feminist and Women's Alternative press: 76 titles
    • GI Underground press: 444 titles
    • LGBT press: 25 titles
    • Latino press: 12 titles
    • Native American press: 4 titles
    • Right-Wing press: 1 title
    • Small literary magazines: 148 titles

    Additional content areas in production (awaiting permission clearance, sourcing, or production) include right-wing press titles, as well as additional titles in several of the series listed above.

    As of April 2018 the live collection contains over 15,000 issues from 793 titles, comprising more than 465,000 pages. When completed, Reveal Digital expects the collection to contain "complete runs of over 1,000 titles and 750,000 pages." 


    Reveal has engaged a service provider to digitize the newspapers identified for inclusion in Independent Voices. To provide the interface, access platform, and hosting services,  Reveal contracted in August 2015 with Veridian, which provides software for online discovery and delivery of digitized newspapers. The Veridian platform offers significantly improved browsing, searchability and other user features over Reveal's initial platform selection (PubFactory).

    Independent Voices offers the ability to search metadata and full-text content, including simple and advanced searching options, boolean operators, and refining searches within results. Advanced searching permits searches within one or more publications as well as by date range. 

    Search results display text snippets, with "hit term highlighting" and title/date/page number indications. Clicking through results brings the user to to page images delivered in full color, with highlighted text for search results. Users can navigate through pages, subsequent issues, or through relevant search results. 

    The Veridian platform allows the user to see uncorrected OCR text for each selected page (which highlights some of the deficiencies of OCR for this type of source material). The platform offers options for correcting OCR, with an authenticated account access -- it is not known at this time if this feature is enabled for purchasing institutions. 

    Browsing features enabled for Independent Voices allows users to see series by title, publication date (a useful feature for chronological surveys), and by collection series. Of note is the ability to browse by source library, which helps to establish the provenance of the original collections.

    Records & Discovery

    Catalogers at California Digital Library are updating and creating MARC records at the title level in OCLC for Independent Voices. They are also working with the ISSN Center to get ISSN numbers assigned where none previously existed. Reveal is currently providing access to funding libraries to an initial set of MARC records via OCLC, with updates as records are created.  

    Reveal Digital provides metadata to ProQuest for discovery via Summon.


    Purchase price is calculated on a tiered basis. Funding libraries receive early access to collections as they are digitized, and for an embargo period of two years after completion. After cost recovery, the collection will reportedly be made openly accessible to the public (currently projected for January 2019). Anyone may search Independent Voices, though viewing actual content requires a subscription. A limited number of publications are open access for public viewing.

    LYRASIS is serving as the exclusive sales and administrative agent for Independent Voices. Reveal Digital offers pricing discounts for interested consortia. 

    For more information on Reveal Digital's business model, see CRL's profile of Reveal Digital and Reveal Digital's original prospectus (December 2012).

    Strengths and Weaknesses

    In June 2015, Reveal Digital formed a permanent advisory group to "provide strategic guidance to ensure Reveal Digital’s activities and strategic decisions remain tightly aligned to the goals and needs of academic and research libraries and the communities they serve."1 Reveal has expressed its sincere interest in working closely with libraries and research institutions, which in turn have expressed support for Reveal's open content model. 

    The "cost-recovery model" proposed by Reveal Digital projects a level of investment required to complete a collection before production is scheduled to begin. In the case of Independent Voices, Reveal launched the product well before the total funding commitment was achieved. As of February 2017, Reveal announced that the funding target for Independent Voices reached its funding goal of $1,794,453. However, sourcing and digitization of collections continues.

    There is considerable uncertainty around the sustainability of Reveal collections, should the expected level of investment ultimately not be achieved. Other projects proposed by Reveal show (to date) insufficient funding commitments to meet the cost threshold to begin production.  

    The publisher has provided an initial title list and has published lists of titles as they are confirmed or in process (see Appendix for a recent title list issued by Reveal). CRL members considering this pilot project have asked: What process will Reveal provide to enable libraries to add content from their own collections? How will additional content be prioritized? How comprehensive and representative will this collection ultimately be in relation to the extensive body of alternative press publications preserved in research collections?2 What known overlap will there be with other licensed collections (such as ProQuest’s Alt-Press Watch) or open access material? 


    Center for Research Libraries

    • Virginia Kerr - Digital Program Manager
    • Gretchen Rings - Communications Staff Writer
    • James Simon - Vice President, Collections & Services

    Daniel C. Tsang - Distinguished Librarian, Data Librarian, Political Science Bibliographer, University of California, Irvine

    Additional Reviews in Other Sources

    1"Reveal Digital Announces Formation of Executive Committee," June 16, 2015.… (accessed April 11, 2016). 

    2For comprehensive information on original sources collections and microfilm sets of alternative press publications, see Daniel C. Tsang, "Preserving the U.S. Underground and Alternative Press of the 1960s and '70s: History, Prospects, and Microform Sources". Originally published in Voices from the Underground vol. 2: A directory of resources & sources on the Vietnam era underground press. Edited by Ken Wachsberger (Tempe, Arizona: Mica Press), 1993: 81-128.  Accessed in University of California eScholarship repository, March 15, 2013.

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