Monday, January 28, 2008

in other kindle news

A library cannot loan a Kindle without it being a violation of the Terms of Service. It also cannot keep patrons who borrow one from adding their own content.


There was an interesting article about the Amazon Kindle in the New York Times -- Freed From the Page, but a Book Nonetheless. The article rightly addresses two of the factors that are key to the success of portable ebook readers -- the quality of the display and usability of the interface, and the physical portability of the unit itself. In those areas, the Kindle doesn't do too badly. Stephen King wrote a column for Entertainment Weekly where he reported on his first use of a Kindle -- he found that he was able to enjoy the book he was reading and the fact that he was using an ebook reader faded into the background.

The article also reports on Steve Jobs' attack on the Kindle not as a device, but as a tool for an untenable market niche because "people don’t read anymore." The article countered the percentage that he presented with some data from a survey conducted in August 2007 by Ipsos Public Affairs for The Associated Press.

27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the previous year. Not as bad as Mr. Jobs’s figure, but dismaying to be sure. Happily, however, the same share — 27 percent — read 15 or more books.

In fact, when we exclude Americans who had not read a single book in that year, the average number of books read was 20, raised by the 8 percent who read 51 books or more. In other words, a sizable minority does not read, but the overall distribution is balanced somewhat by those who read a lot.

Both sides are trying to make a point using statistics: Jobs' figure is high, and the NYT is getting a favorable average by excluding an entire class of respondents. But it's the wrong point. Neither article really dealt with the issues surrounding the content -- availability, formats, interoperability, and DRM. Those are what's really crippling the ebook reader market, not whether people read any more. Make the content as openly available as possible, in as many formats as possible, and transferable between desktops and devices and between people, _and_ do away with the crippling DRM, and then there will be a thriving ebook and ereader market.

already a blacklight 0.2

Bess has posted that 0.2 is out the door.

Within 24 hours of releasing Blacklight 0.1 she received a patch fixing a problem in one of the config files and augmenting the installation README. 0.2 is 0.1 but with the config file fixed, some better installation instructions, and exported from svn (as opposed to checked out).

She's ported the subversion repository over to rubyforge. The source is browseable here: and you can see all your svn options here:

NIH mandate questions

T. Scott Plutchak has a great post on questions that should be addressed at the January ARL meeting on the NIH public access policy. I understand that this is an invitation-only meeting, but I wish I could find some details about this meeting, whoi's going to attend, and what is going to be discussed. If it's on the ARL web site I can't find it. If someone can point me toward more info, I'd appreciate it. Since we don't yet have an IR in place, we have questions about compliance.

texts read into Congressional record

There's an interesting post from Peter Brantley, which contains an opinion (not a legal opinion, but a knowledgeable opinion nonetheless) on the copyright status of texts read into the Congressional record. It's an interesting question -- tracking of rights when copyrighted texts are excerpted in a public document.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cal Berkeley pilot to subsidize open access fees

Via OA Librarian, the U.C. Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) is launching an 18-month pilot program, to subsidize, in various degrees, fees charged to authors who select open access or paid access publication. The pilot will also yield data that can be used to gauge faculty interest in -- as well as the budgetary impacts of -- these new modes of scholarly communication on the Berkeley campus.

I was initially very excited by the announcement on BoingBoing that The Atlantic had opened its archive. I read the Editor's Note describing the decision. I followed the link to start my exploration.

It's a little misleading. The _site_ is now open to all. They have "Unbound" (web only) content and full issues back to 1995 open. But their other free content seems to be selected material. Some thing that I looked for are there (Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think"). I've seen other people's examples of known article with no results. There is still a "Premium Archive" for the full content going back to 1857.

Still, there's some great content. Try the search at

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blacklight 0.1 source is out there

Check out Bess's post for more details -- Blacklight 0.1 source is now available at

Free Government Information

When I first scanned over this email message in my inbox I thought about those old late night tv ads enjoining us to write NOW! for free government publications that could help YOU get money from the US Government!

This project is actually really intriguing:

Free Government Information is investigating the usefulness of tagging government documents that do not receive traditional cataloging and needs your help! We've posted 32 documents that the Government Printing Office (GPO) harvested from the EPA web site and posted them to the Internet Archive. Over the next three months, we'd like to see as many people as possible tag and describe these documents using the bookmarking service. For a full project description and instructions on how to participate, please visit We'd like to thank GPO for posting a sample of their harvested EPA documents that made this project possible.
They are going to run the project for three months and collate the following data: How many people participated in the project, how many documents were tagged, how many documents were described, and the average number of tags per document. I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome, especially alongside the LC Flickr project.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Peter Brantley on Google Books

There is a very brief interview with Peter Brantley, Director of DLF, in the January 25 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required). In this interview he answers a series of questions that identify his concerns about the Google Book project.

He identifies issues about the resources required of the libraries that participate, and that the cost can keep the library from other activities. He hopes that "a court [will] determine once and for all that it is fair use to digitize a copyrighted work and make a snippet of it publicly available." He notes that Google is creating content for its own use that can potentially be made into some sort of commercial service, and that its processes and standards are opaque to the user and the community. He expresses concern that the fuzzy status of orphan works put them into a category where someone will end up making money off them when he thinks that shouldn't be allowed. There's nothing there I'd argue with.

He also points out that the quality of the scans is not consistent. That's followed by this:

Q: Shouldn't Google be commended for helping to preserve library books?

A. The company is not preserving books. It is creating an archive for Google's own purposes.

I'm of two minds when it comes to responding to this. I do not know why so many people assume that this project is preserving the volumes -- Google does not say that; they say that they are creating access copies. The participant institutions know this, and we knew this went we entered into the project. More people need to keep pointing this out.

The other side of this is that IF WE DO WANT "preservation quality" digital objects that represent these books (argue amongst yourselves about how to define what that means or if such objects can actually exist), that's a an additional project with additional costs and time and wear and tear on the volumes to digitize them. And that is unfortunate.

I'm going to end up looking like a major Google apologist because I keep pointing out when folks have things wrong about the project. I just want to set the record straight when I can, so our participation can be judged (pro or con) based on accurate information.

American Literatures

American Literatures is a Mellon Foundation-funded project where five university presses—NYU, Fordham, Rutgers, Temple, and Virginia—have established an initiative designed to create new opportunities for publication in humanistic scholarship. The most innovative aspect of the program will be the establishment of a shared, centralized, external editorial service dedicated solely to managing the production of books in the initiative. This service will handle all copyediting, design, layout, and typesetting costs, and manage each title through to the point where it is ready for printing. The initiative has a web site and has announced on its "about page" (scroll down) in which areas each press is soliciting submissions.

I look forward to watching how this progresses for the UVA Press.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

more openID support news

After testing OpenIDs as logins to Blogger in a prototypet program in November 2007, Google has become an OpenID provider. Effective immediately, Blogger users can use their blogs URL as an OpenID login, after toggling the option via the admin menu. Read the posting on TechCrunch.

Friday, January 18, 2008


There's an interesting project out of the Fashion Institute of Technology to develop an open access online art history text using interactive technologies -- smARThistory. It's being developed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Google to Host Terabytes of Open-Source Science Data

Wired Science has a post on Google's plan to host open-source scientific datasets through a project called Palimpset. The post includes links to a number of documents and other posts.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

support for OpenID

Yahoo has thrown some support behind OpenID when used on conjunction with Yahoo IDs. ReadWriteWeb has a thorough analysis.

great headline

From an article in the Times of London on a new genus of Madagascar palm:

"Picnicking family stumbles on a suicidal monster palm tree."


Dan Cohen reports that the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University is having an "unconference" called THATCamp: The Humanities and Technology Camp from May 31 to June 1, 2008.

An unconference is a participant-generated collaborative program. I was involved in beCamp last year, and I am a big fan or the model. It's a great fit for digital humanities collaborations.

LC and flickr

One couldn't turn around online today without seeing a post on the Library of Congress flickr experiment today: Read Write Web, Shifted Librarian, eFoundations, Catalogablog, Digital Koans, etc, and of course on the LOC blog.

In case you've been under a rock, LC has put up 3,000 images of photographs from their Prints and Photographs division for which no rights restrictions are known to exist, and are asking folks to tag them to help in enriching the metadata. The pilot project is in a new area of flickr called "The Commons." LC has a GREAT FAQ on participation.

Three things stand out for me:

They have made use of a new rights statement "no known copyright restrictions," which they may or may not make available for other images uploaded to flickr.

They are interested in hearing from other cultural heritage institutions to gauge interest in other projects becoming part of The Commons.

This is a pilot, and they do not know how long they might keep the images on flickr. So, review and tag these while you can. They have other candidate collections in mind.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

D-Lib article on CRATE

The January/February 2008 issue of D-Lib includes an article by Joan Smith and Michael Nelson on their proposed CRATE mod-oai utility to produce preservation metadata for web resources. I saw this work presented at Open Repositories 2007 and I thought it was interesting then. It's a good article on an interesting proposal.

Archivists' Toolkit 1.1 released

Archivists' Toolkit -- a tool that has been designed to fill a huge need in the archival EAD community -- has released version 1.1. On the surface it seems to do something so simple, but often those "simple tasks" are deceptively so, and are those that can benefit most from a tool like this that can be shared across the community.

everyone needs continuing ed in copyright

Both Open Access News and the Chronicle of Higher Ed reported on a presentation at ALA Midwinter by Trisha Davis, a librarian at Ohio State University that states that faculty frequently have no idea that they've signed away copyright and/or other rights in their contracts with publishers. This was presented in the context of getting content into the IR at Ohio State.

This is no surprise to many of us. I first really gave this issue some thought after hearing a very good presentation by Karla Hahn that in part covered a study of publishing contracts at the 2004 University of Maryland Center for Intellectual Property conference (part of Panel 2).

Not having attending Midwinter to hear the talk -- so I have no idea if this was mentioned or not -- it's NOT JUST FACULTY that need refreshers in intellectual property. I have heard some librarians from many institutions espouse some really unsound beliefs about copyright and fair use. I also feel quite strongly that "refresher" is neither the right word nor the right idea -- librarians and faculty need continuing education in intellectual property issues. The landscape is constantly changing, laws are changing, and online publishing is by nature international in its distribution.

The UVA Library's Scholars' Lab is holding a series of Copyright 101 presentations that I know are making a difference, because I've attended and heard the questions that faculty have asked and had answered. Some of us now want to introduce a series for library staff as well.

LCSH makes the Washington Post

In 2006 there a decision was made at the Library of Congress to do away with the subject headings for Scottish literature, instead suggesting "English literature" headings. There was more than a small kerfuffle over this when it was belatedly reported in the Times of London and the BBC last December.

Today the Washington Post actually took note of this, publishing an article on the reversal of the decision. The Times has also taken note. In fact, it's all over the news this morning. Interesting that a standards terminology issue has become so political.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Report on LC/SDSC Data Transfer and Storage Tests

The Library of Congress has released the report Data Center for Library of Congress Digital Holdings: A Pilot Project; Final Report. I've only had the chance to glance through it, but it looks to be a very clear and straightforward report on technical, procedural, and cultural issues encountered in this digital image collection data transfer experiment, and how they resolved those issues (or not).


There was an interesting convergence of posts on Chandler today.

The first post that I read was from Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing, talking about his use of Chandler over the past few months, how he likes it, and how it's improved over time. Then I saw, via TechDirt, that Mitch Kapor has backed out of the project, and there's a press release about the Chandler's future.

I never really looked into Chandler, but I know that folks at some places (UC Berkeley for one) were at one time very engaged with its possibilities. As someone who had been recently required to switch to Outlook and Exchange, I wish this had made more progress and gotten more traction.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

print-on-demand from open access books is offering an experimental non-commercial service that allows users to convert digital public domain books in the Internet Archive, Google Book Search, or the Universal Digital Library to print-on-demand using the service You pay for the service through Lulu.

For example, you paste in a URL for a public domain volume from Google Book Search, and the process takes advantage of the existing PDF for production. Apparently the Internet Archive PDFs can't be used, so the process takes advantage of the dejavu files instead.

There's a blog post mini-interview with the founder, who has his own blog.

Nature archive online

The full text of all Nature articles back to the first issue in 1869 are now online. I wish it weren't by subscription only, but we have access at UVA and it is remarkably cool. That first issue includes a book review for M. Madsen's Antiquités préhistoriques du Danemarck on Danish Iron Age sites that makes me want to look for a copy so I can see the beautifully described illustrations.

Final Version of the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Report Released

The final version of the highly anticipated report from the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control was released today -- "On the Record: Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control." I don't know when I'll have a chance to look at it, but I understand that changes were incorporated from comments received during the review period.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

copyright and images online

There was an interesting article today in the Washington Post about folks who have posted images on flickr and in blogs, only to discover their images co-opted for commercial use. (I don't know how long the article will be publicly available)

Cases included a woman who found an image of her pub in a Santa suit used on a Fox NFL broadcast, and a Dallas teenager who found an image of herself used in a commercial ad campaign for Virgin Mobile in Australia. There have apparently been a number of cases involving the online parenting magazine Babble, which they repeatedly blame on inexperienced staff. In one case, a man who asked a Microsoft blog to remove a link to his image and got no response then replaced the image with a famous pornographic image, which got immediate action.

The article briefly describes fair use, and rightly mentions that a rights holder can give away or assign rights use. But there's this quote from the article: "Clearly, the only way to really make sure your photos on the Internet don't get splashed around is not to put them up there to begin with." (their emphasis.) And there's this description of creative Commons: "... Creative Commons, a nonprofit that licenses photos for Flickr."

Given that they spoke with Larry Lessig and quoted him in the article, could they have done the five minutes of research needed to correctly characterize CC? Could they have bothered to describe how best to declare one's rights? Advising folks to be vigilant about their rights is a good thing, but let's not advise withholding content for fear of misuse.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

public domain day

John Mark Ockerbloom blogged a list of authors whose works in theory went into the public domain yesterday., at least in some countries. With the “life plus 70 years” and "life plus 50 years" term rules, authors who died in 1937 or in 1957 should have their works pass into the public domain in many countries. John goes on to decry that nothing like that will happen in the U.S. until 2019. also has a greet entry with an extensive list. It's a list full of fabulous names.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

virtual 1815 Jefferson library

Working at the University of Virginia, one is never far removed from Mr. Jefferson's legacy, be it architectural or intellectual or in manuscript form.

LibraryThing announced today that the project to catalog Jefferson's 1815 library (the volumes sold to the Library of Congress to replace its burned collection) is complete, the first collection processed by the volunteer "I See Dead People['s Books]" group. Not only did they catalog them using the Gilreath/Wilson list, they used his classification scheme for tagging AND they excerpted book reviews from his letters, using the online page image versions from LC. And you can take advantage of LibraryThing social tools, like checking what books you have in common, view tag clouds, stats, etc. This is a work of digital scholarship, providing access and interaction and analysis, built using a tool that many do not take yet seriously.

I notice that one of the other projects is Tupac. I wonder where that authoritative list is from?