Thursday, September 21, 2006

Google Book Search

The Google Book Search now features "Find this book in a Library" links to WorldCat. It's not as prominent as the options to buy a book; it appears below the list of potential purchase locations. You do need to enter your ZIP code to see the list of locations, but that's normal as an individual user in Open WorldCat. It provided a nice box identifying my home library as UVA, and links to search for the book in my Resolver or catalog. It passed seamlessly through our Resolver which recognized the item as a book and passed the request along to our OPAC. The direct OPAC link worked fine as well. Google Scholar and Google have had this feature for a while -- it's nice to see it here.

I still wish I could figure out how to consistently determine the provenance of a digitized book in GBS, though. When the book has come from the publisher, the source is shown in the bottom left-hand corner. When a book has been digitized as part of the Google Library project, it says nothing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

ubiquitous access

This morning I was at a Library town meeting where James Hilton, the University's new CTO was speaking. I've heard him speak before at conferences, and I found an excellent article that covers much of what he discussed this morning that I think people should read:

What struck me this morning was the audience's reaction to much of what he was saying, because so much of it was new to them. Email is old-fashioned? What does DRM stand for? What is "Rip. Mix. Burn."?

The timing was strangely serendipitous. Last Friday, Jim Campbell was telling me that we should do something about developing a better-educated clientele -- not our patrons, but our internal Library clientele. Today we officially started planning a discussion series with our Library training coordinator to introduce our Library staff to information resources they might not know about (but our patrons probably do). It's not principally about new technologies, but about new resources. Exposing Library staff to new technologies tangentially would be a bonus.

Among the topics that have come up -- Library blogs and blogging, Wikipedia and wikis, IMDB, Flickr, Google Scholar and Book Search, (Open), RSS, mySpace, YouTube, LibraryThing, the Long Tail, and Web 2.0/Library 2.0 social systems. I'm sure there's a lot more we haven't gotten on the list yet.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Cory Doctorow has an interesting posting on the online version of Locus (a publication dedicated to the science fiction and fantasy publishing world) entitled "How Copyright Broke."

I'm particularly interested in his focus on end users rights, and the extreme lack of understanding of those rights:

No, the realpolitik of unauthorized use is that users are not required to secure permission for uses that the rights holder will never discover. If you put some magazine clippings in your mood book, the magazine publisher will never find out you did so. If you stick a Dilbert cartoon on your office-door, Scott Adams will never know about it.
When it comes to retail customers for information goods --— readers, listeners, watchers -- this whole license abstraction falls flat. No one wants to believe that the book he's brought home is only partly his, and subject to the terms of a license set out on the flyleaf.
But customers understand property -- you bought it, you own it --— and they don't understand copyright. Practically no one understands copyright.
There's no conceivable world in which people are going to tiptoe around the property they've bought and paid for, re-checking their licenses to make sure that they're abiding by the terms of an agreement they doubtless never read.
The answer is simple: treat your readers' property as property. What readers do with their own equipment, as private, noncommercial actors, is not a fit subject for copyright regulation or oversight. The Securities Exchange Commission doesn't impose rules on you when you loan a friend five bucks for lunch. Anti-gambling laws aren't triggered when you bet your kids an ice-cream cone that you'll bicycle home before them. Copyright shouldn't come between an end-user of a creative work and her property. Of course, this approach is made even simpler by the fact that practically every customer for copyrighted works already operates on this assumption.
I'm always interested in what he has to say, given his relationship with Creative Commons, and his release of his own works in digital form under CC licenses. This column doesn't suggest _how_ to change practices, but it's an interesting call-to-arms for authors.

I'm also always glad to read articles that express the distinctions between copyright, trademark, and licenses. I cannot count the number of outrageous beliefs that I have heard espoused by librarians regarding the aggregated set of topics that is usually just referred to as copyright. The most common issues that I run into are a lack of understanding of three topics:
  • The difference between copyright and other rights -- access rights and use rights; and
  • How rights (whether copyright or access or use rights) can be assigned via license that can override the rights assumed under the fair use doctrine; and
  • That a work that is in the public domain (say, a novel from 1890) can have manifestations (like a 1990 print edition) that are copyrighted.
The first is an issue of generating understanding of what restrictions a copyright holder can request of the users of a copyrighted work. This includes requesting limited access (such as limiting access to authorized users), or use restrictions (such as not allowing commercial use without permission).

The second is the assumption that fair use trumps, well, everything. The catch, as I understand it, is that contracts (and a license is a contract) can and do have restrictions in them that disallow uses that we would think of as OK under fair use. Contracts, under US law, are what can actually trump anything. If authors (or vendors with rights assigned by license to them by the rights holders that allow vendors to enter into licenses with users) want to design licenses that say a work can never be quoted in any context without express permission, they can. Luckily, libraries generally have smart acquisitions folks that review licenses with a fine-toothed comb to identify such unlikely terms and push back on them where possible.

The third is one that comes up a lot in the text digitization realm. How can, say, an edition of Tom Sawyer be copyrighted? Isn't it in the public domain? It was published in 1876! The catch is that publishers can copyright their editions/manifestations because of the work that goes into designing and producing them. So yes, an edition of Tom Sawyer can be copyrighted. As can the electronic transcription of a microfilm image of a newspaper article from 1885. The original print article is no longer covered by the publisher's rights, but the publisher of the microfilm and the creator of the electronic transcription can claim rights if their manifestation is deemed copyrightable, and therefore place restrictions. There is a lot of discussion about what level of production work makes a manifestation copyrightable, but that's a whole other topic.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Carrying on from the meme started at Confessions of a Mad Librarian and continued by Dorothea, here is the haiku Digital Access Services mission:

information with
as little impediment
as is possible

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google News Archive Search

I found this interesting article on Search Engine Watch:

Google's new News Archive Search lets you search back over twenty decades worth of historical content, including scads of articles not previously available via the search engine.

"The goal of this service is to allow people to search and explore how history unfolded," said Anurag Acharya, Google distinguished engineer, who played a major role in shepherding the new product.

Google has partnered with news organizations including Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Guardian and the Washington Post, and aggregators including Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale and HighBeam Research, to index the full-text of content going back 200 years.

Archived news results can be found in three ways. You can search the news archives directly through a new News Archive Search page. News archive results are also returned when you search on Google News or do a general Google web search and your query has relevant historical news results.

Both free and fee-based content is included in Archive Search, with content from both publishers and aggregators. Search results available for a fee are labeled "pay-per-view" or with a specific price indicated. Google does not host this content; clicking on a link for fee-based content takes you to the content owner or aggregator's web site where you must complete the transaction before gaining access to the content.

It's an interesting range of content -- many, many newspapers, Time Magazine, etc. -- but when I searched, the lion's share of what I found was for-fee or restricted by subscription, not free. Even materials dating to the 1850s-1890s were restricted by subscription or pay-per-view.

I tried a Washington Post article from 1894. Now, we subscribe to ProQuest Historical Newspapers, including the Washington Post. But the links in the Google search results took me through something called ProQuest Archiver, which redirected me to the Washington Post archive where I was asked to pony up $3.95. So I searched ProQuest Historical Newspapers and came up with the same article, free to me because it is covered by our subscription.

So, it's an interesting discovery tool, but unrelated to our licensed resources and expensive to use if you have to pay for almost everything you find. Why doesn't it have an OpenURL Resolver service like Google Scholar, so authorized users can get to authorized resources?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thinking about user expectations for Library services

Our institution has been brainstorming about user access to content. I have been thinking about user expectations for Library online services in the context of other services that our community -- faculty and students -- use in their lives. I wrote this in July, framing it around my activities in a single weekend:

What did I do during an average weekend in summer 2006?

I checked my email.

I watched a movie that I rented via Netflix. It was a movie that I had never heard of before adding it to my rental queue -- Netflix's recommender service suggested that I might like it based on my rental history. And I did. If I were so inclined, I could add a personal review to the Netflix site.

The movie was based on a Korean novel, so I looked it up using Google and wikipedia.

I went to a movie at a theater with a friend. I looked up the time online and we confirmed using cell phones.

I scheduled payments for bills directly from my bank account online.

I ordered a media cabinet for my living room. I can track its shipping progress through the UPS web site.

I read part of a book that I purchased through It was highly recommended by a colleague, but I had also read reviews on a number of blogs, and through those blogs I found the blog written by the author -- the senior editor at Wired Magazine. I subscribed to the RSS feed so I wouldn't miss any postings.

I added that book to my personal LibraryThing catalog. 50 other users of the service also have the book, and I could read their reviews, see what tags they used, or start a discussion with them about the book's topic.

A couple of contacts on my flickr space wondered why I hadn't added any new pictures of my house, so I sorted through photos taken with my digital camera in preparation to upload them.

I had a conversation with my neighbor across the street about an anomaly that she found while searching for a new book in our opac. She's a retired English professor.

So, in a single weekend, I interacted with more than a half dozen digital services and took advantage of the output of several online social networks. This is in my personal life, and doesn't even take into account my professional activities. I may be more digital than some, but I'm part of the same generation as many of our more recently tenured faculty, and I know that our graduate students and undergraduates are even more plugged in than I am.

Given the number and types of digital services that our users encounter, what expectations might they have about the Library's services? How can the services be personalized for them? What notification services can we set up? Can we create more interactive/social networking opportunities for our users? How can we improve our core online service -- the ability to locate and use our collections? I'd like to see us give some serious thought to these issues, looking at other libraries and at the types of services that our users encounter in every other aspect of their lives.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Here I go ...

I am fascinated by digital libraries. How the content is selected, production and metadata standards, repository infrastructure, interfaces, and whether they are usable and useful. It's what I do every day.

I lead a digital life. Online banking, online shopping, digital cameras, LibraryThing, flickr, iPods, DVRs, etc. I never seem to get away from it.

I originally planned to call this blog "Digital Armadillo." I am fascinated by armadillos. The shape of their heads, their armor, their gait, and even the sight of dead ones on the side of the road, in the position that has come to be referred to as "casters up" in our household. I have acquired, though my own efforts and those of others, a selection of armadillo-themed objects. A coffee mug, magnets, postcards, a plush armadillo, a concrete garden ornament, and many pieces of Mexican folk art.

Somehow I will bring these topics and others together in a single stream-of-consciousness.