SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY

Issue 17/04

September 24, 2004

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian, Editor

 

 

BY THE BOOK

Critics said the web would destroy small booksellers, but now it appears that hasn’t happened. The internet, in fact, has provided a lifeline for possibly the least fashionable and most technologically backward part of the marketplace: old books. The Guardian 9/9/04 Read this long report at

http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1299898,00.html

 

BIOLOGY JOURNAL SAYS IT MISTAKENLY PUBLISHED PAPER

A small scientific society has publicly distanced itself from a paper, published last month by its journal, which challenges Darwinian evolution. The Biological Society of Washington issued a statement saying that the paper, which supports so-called intelligent-design theory, should not have appeared in the journal. The controversial article is by Stephen C. Meyer, who directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, in Seattle , and is a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University , which describes itself as a Christian institution. The paper appeared in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington . According to the society's go vern ing council, the paper "was published without the prior knowledge of the council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, or associate editors." "We have met," the statement said, "and determined that all of us would have deemed this paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings." The statement said nothing about retracting the article. The paper was accepted for publication by the journal's previous editor, Richard Sternberg, a fellow at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the National Institutes of Health. Mr. Sternberg is also a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, which promotes the idea that nature has a purpose. He did not respond to repeated telephone calls from The Chronicle. The Proceedings, a qu arte rly journal, normally publishes papers describing species of plants and animals. The other papers in the current issue describe four new species of crustaceans and three new species of sponges. Mr. Meyer's paper—on the much broader issue of the origin of animal phyla—represents a significant departure, said the society's president, Roy W. McDiarmid, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey. He received several complaints from society members, prompting the council to issue its statement. The paper had been reviewed by three scientists and had been recommended for publication pending revisions, said Mr. McDiarmid. He did not learn about the paper until after its publication. "My conclusion on this," he said, "was that it was a really bad judgment call on the editor's part." Chronicle of Higher Education 9/10/04 http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/09/2004091003n.htm

 

 

E-FORUM ON OPEN ACCESS

An upcoming eForum on "OPEN ACCESS TO SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS: A MODEL FOR ENHANCED KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?" will be hosted by the global public goods Network (gpgNet). The eForum will run from 20 September through 4 October 2004 .

Today, about 5% of academic publishing follows the open-access model. But the model is quickly gaining ground, including among both for-profit (BioMedCentral -BMC) and not-for-profit (Public Library of Science PloS) publishers. The key points suggested for the debate are:

1. What are the main pros and cons of open-access schol arl y publishing?

2. Thinking in particular of scholars in developing countries (and the fact that research grants may not be as easily available for them than for industrial-country scholars), could they face a new disadvantage? What sources will be available to pay these fees when authors cannot get their funder or employer to pay them? Will all open-access journals be able to waive processing fees in cases of economic hardship, as PLoS and BMC do? Should the international aid community maintain a fund/facility to help meet these costs?

3. Is the open-access model of publishing more likely to be successful in some than in other fields? What would determine the likely success?

4. Could the open-access model of knowledge management be applied beyond schol arl y academic publishing?

To subscribe to this forum, send a blank email to: subscribe-gpgnet-a@groups.undp.org or, go to: http://groups.undp.org/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=3Dgpgnet-oa

 

BRITISH LIBRARY PUTS SHAKESPEARE ONLINE

The British Library is posting high-resolution copies of some of the e arl iest versions of Shakespeare's plays online. The 21 plays included in the online collection were originally printed during the playwright's lifetime and include many lines and passages that are different from those found in the First Folio editions, which were not printed until after Shakespeare's death. Having the copies available online will allow scholars easy access to works that are believed to be closer to the original text of the plays. The Web site that contains the images of the plays will also include background information, images, sound clips, and tools to allow comparison of the e arl ier versions of the plays with the more common later versions, to see how the text has changed. BBC, 10 September 2004 Edupage, September 10, 2004 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3641880.stm

 

COPYRIGHT OFFICE DELIVERS INDUCE PROPOSAL

The U.S. Copyright Office has delivered its recommendations to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had asked for advice in developing proper language for the proposed

Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act. Critics say the Copyright Office's proposal would undo protections provided in the 1984 Supreme Court ruling establishing the legality of the Sony Betamax video recorder. BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 9/13/04 Recommendations at http://www.eff.org/IP/Copyright_Office_Induce_Act.pdf

Coverage at http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,64870,00.html

 

MORE ON OPEN ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

Barbara Quint, DOE's OSTI Service Expands Federal Government Coverage, Information Today , September 13, 2004 . Excerpt: "Look behind the screen at many major federal government portals—Science.gov, FirstGov.gov, even GPO Access—and you will often find the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information playing a leading role. Recently it expanded its collection of government contract databases with some half-a-million summaries of R&D projects to those supplied by the DOE itself and five other federal agencies....OSTI uses a metasearch technology developed by tiny Deep Web Technologies to perform searches across databases located on different agency host sites without requiring the searcher to enter multiple queries....Currently the public can also access this research tool through GPO Access. In conversation with Walter Warnick, OSTI's director, it became clear that partnering and facilitating cross-agency data service was basic to OSTI's concept of service to citizens....Whatever works to get data to the public seems to fit with Warnick and OSTI’s view of its service mission. 'We want to bridge from Open Web-type searching to sophisticated database searching. We will expose our data through Google and Yahoo! as well as through metasearching of bigger and bigger aggregations, so patrons don’t have to identify and use sources one at a time.' Once Warnick gets the links of the expanded R&D summaries on Science.gov, can FirstGov.gov be far behind?" Open Access News 9/13/04

 

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ENDORSES NIH OPEN ACCESS PLAN

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the NIH open-access plan. From yesterday's press release: "The United States Chamber of Commerce welcomed news by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that it plans to provide enhanced public access to all NIH-funded research information. The Chamber has long been an active advocate of more open and transparent access to go vern ment information. 'This is great news for American taxpayers and businesses,' said William Kovacs, Chamber vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, which strongly supports the NIH proposal. 'The Chamber encourages the free and timely dissemination of scientific knowledge produced by the NIH as it will improve both the public and industry's ability to become better informed on public policy issues that impact them.'...While welcoming free public dissemination of NIH-funded research, Kovacs also urged NIH to provide free access to all models and data used in support of the research, without which he noted, would make establishing the scientific findings impossible....The Chamber is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector, and region." Open Access News 9/19/04

 

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES ENDORSES NIH PROPOSAL

The National Academy of Sciences also has endorsed the proposed National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposal that research supported by NIH be made freely available online at PubMed Central within six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. ACRL Schol arl y Communications Task Force 9/16/04 The text of their statement is online at http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/s09162004?OpenDocument

 

NIH OPEN ACCESS NOW APPEARS LESS THAN CERTAIN

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias Zerhouni met twice more with stakeholders recently, again reiterating that change was indeed coming to the NIH regarding public availability of the research it funds. Some lawmakers, however, have backed off the idea that the proposed NIH policy would actually be impl emented soon. The NIH proposal, now receiving public comment, would compel researchers to deposit copies of their final, peer-reviewed articles in PubMed Central. The articles would then be freely available within six months. Publishers have complained that the proposal will encroach on their business and possibly harm the dissemination of research. However, a draft statement from Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) said lawmakers intend for the NIH to “bring the various stakeholders to the table and work out a policy on more open access to biomedical research information, without specifying exactly which model will be adopted.” He chairs the Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which is presiding over the NIH policy. Further, it appears that the Senate is reluctant to get involved. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who received the AAP’s letter criticizing the NIH proposal, said he would not follow the House’s lead and add a call for public access to a Senate appropriations bill. Library Journal, 9/13/04 http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA452481?display=breakingNews

 

AAP EXPRESSES STRONG DISAPPOINTMENT AS NIH PROPOSAL HITS HOUSE FLOOR

In a charged letter to Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), Association of American Publishers (AAP) president Patricia Schroeder expressed "serious disappointment" with last week's colloquy on the House of Representatives floor regarding the appropriations bill that would seek to open research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the public within six months. The colloquy between Istook and subcommittee chair Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH) followed the conclusion in e arl y September of a series of meetings between NIH director Elias Zerhouni and various stakeholders, including publishers. A colloquy is a pre-scripted floor dialogue between the chair of a committee and another representative that clarifies the intent behind certain provisions for purposes of legislative history. In the colloquy, Istook noted that Zerhouni had taken care in seeking comment from various stakeholders before quickly responding to the committee's report language requesting a policy to open NIH research to taxpayers. Schroeder complained to Istook that the "nature of the colloquy was quite different than what we were told to expect." Istook himself had recently hinted that the NIH proposal was s impl y an option, but in the colloquy, Schroeder complained, he ignored publisher concerns and served only to "spur NIH to continue moving with undue haste and inadequate stakeholder participation in proposing its plan for impl ementation." In addition, Schroeder blasted Zerhouni's meetings, which were described in the colloquy as "public" meetings but, according to Schroeder, were by invitation only. She went on to complain that the meetings were inadequate and that the format of the meetings separated each constituency, so that those for or against the proposal had "no opportunity to interact in hearing how their respective views were expressed" or how Zerhouni responded. "In our view," she wrote, "NIH continues to avoid engaging in a process that would provide a real dialogue." Schroeder also blasted the way the proposal was made available for public comment. Rather than publish a notice in the Federal Register, the NIH, she wrote, instead "chose to start the clock" on a 60-day public comment period by posting its plan in the form of a notice on the NIH's web site, on the Friday before Labor Day, within the NIH's Guide for Grants and Contracts. Schroeder urged Istook to facilitate a process to "reasonably address" publishers' concerns before NIH proceeds with impl ementing its plan. Library Journal Academic News Wire: September 14, 2004

 

MIT PRESS CHARGES McGRAW-HILL WITH COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

MIT Press has demanded compensation from McGraw-Hill for infringing MIT's copyright on a monograph by Meredith L. Clausen, a professor of architectural history at the University of Washington . Portions of her work are reproduced, without acknowledgment, in a book by Roger Shepherd, a professor of fine arts at the Parsons School of Design, in New York . Chronicle of Higher Education 9/14/04

http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/09/2004091403n.htm

 

CONTENT, NOT CONTAINERS

A new report from OCLC, 2004 Information Format Trends: Content, Not Containers, examines how information trends and format innovations have required libraries to manage a much more complex universe of resources. The report looks at the remarkable changes of the past 18 months—most notably the unbundling of content from traditional containers, such as books and journals—and lays out the top trends for libraries in the next five years.

OCLC Abstracts 9/13/04 http://www.oclc.org/reports/2004format.htm

ACCESS BARRIERS TO ARCHIVED AUDIO

CLIR has released a report, Survey of the State of Audio Collections in Academic Libraries, by Abby Smith , David Randal Allen, and Karen Allen (August 2004). Among other things, it details the access barriers to audio collections archived around the country. Quoting from Tuesday's press release: "From Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chats to the stories of the last native Yahi speaker, from whale songs recorded in the North Pacific to C arl Sandburg's reading of 'Fog,' much of the twentieth-century is captured in audio recordings. U.S. libraries and archives house vast and rich collections of such recordings, which are of enormous value for scholarship and are increasingly used in teaching. Yet, many important audio resources go unused because they are not accessible. A new report from the Council on Library and Information Resources explores why this is so....The most frequently cited obstacles to access relate to a lack of bibliographic control. Physical fragility, lack of playback equipment for obsolete formats, access restrictions imposed by donors, and staff concerns about privacy rights were also commonly cited as barriers to access. Copyright emerged as a key concern with impl ications for both preservation and access." Open Access News 9/16/04 http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub128abst.html

 

STUDYING USERS OF OAI METADATA FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE RESOURCES - UIUC

Sarah L. Shreeves and Christine M. Kirkham, Experiences of Educators Using a Portal of Aggregated Metadata, Journal of Digital Information , September 9, 2004 . Abstract: "The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Project sought to test the viability of a search portal containing aggregated metadata for cultural heritage resources harvested using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Metadata was collected from 39 providers, including museums, archives, libraries, historical societies, consortiums, and digital libraries. Some resources existed in digital formats, such as .JPG images. Other resources were analog objects and were represented digitally through the metadata. The paper documents a pilot user test with a small group of K-12 teachers-in-training. The users were asked to use the portal to locate primary source materials for use in the classroom. The results highlight the challenges posed by aggregations of heterogeneous metadata for both users and service providers. Areas for further investigation and approaches for more in-depth studies are suggested." Open Access News 9/15/04 http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/v05/i03/Shreeves/

 

NATURE OPEN ACCESS DEBATE ENDS WITH SIX NEW CONTRIBUTIONS

The Nature web focus on open access has concluded by releasing six new contributions.

Open Access News 9/14/04 http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/

DIGITAL PACK RATS

Digital technology is spawning digital pack rats, and Peter Lyman, a University of California-Berkeley professor of Information Management and Systems, comments: "It's like an infinite attic, and we're filling it. People are feeling overwhelmed and trying to find coping strategies." Lyman's new study of personal media consumption has found that 90% of those surveyed have at least two e-mail addresses—and that half of them
complain about problems with managing e-mail volume. Barry J. Izsak of the National Association of Professional Organizers says, "Technology was supposed to make (life) s impl er, but for many it's made it more complicated. It's much easier to save way more than you need because it is so easy. This has become major." Ed Schlesinger of the Data Storage Systems Center at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh warns: "We are
approaching a time, maybe five years from now, when we will demonstrate technology that will allow you to store a small image of every man, woman and child on the planet on one CD-size disc. If I can do that, do you think I'm going to bother deleting that one photo of the kids?" What's the answer to that question? ( Indianapolis Star 30 Aug 2004 ) Shelflife No. 174 ( September 16, 2004 ) http://www.indystar.com/articles/3/174329-4203-047.html

 

DEVELOPING AN ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE

Since a long list of problems are encountered using commercial search engines for academic use—such as a frequent inability to retrieve academic sources and inconsistent attention to long-term availability of the information—a team at the Bielefeld University Library in Germany set out to design a search engine configured specifically for academic use. The team hoped that with one single access point, founded on state-of-the-art search engine technology, they could enable access to the heterogeneous academic resources of subject-based bibliographic databases, catalogs, electronic newspapers, document servers and academic Web pages. Using the Norwegian company Fast's search engine Alltheweb as a starting point, the team created a search engine that is both modular and transparent in construction. The user interface employs a basic Google-like single line search box, plus an advanced search option with added functionality to refine and restrict search results even further. Further developments are in the works, including the ability to make local views of the search engine possible through establishment of search and result parameters. For collaboration with other systems, the team plans to activate features enabling distributed search and connection with external indexes. (D-Lib Magazine Sep 2004) Shelflife No. 174 ( September 16, 2004 ) http://www.dlib.org/dlib/september04/lossau/09lossau.html

 

DIGITAL FISH LIBRARY

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has launched a new project called the Digital Fish Library, which plans to use magnetic resonance imaging to scan specimens of every one of the 482 families of fish known to science. Scripps' Marine Vertebrates Collection currently contains representatives of 455 species. "The beauty of MRI is it gives you a fairly rapid detailed structural analysis, (and) you still have the specimen intact when you're done," says marine biologist Jeffrey Graham. "This new imaging capability is going to allow us to look inside specimens we wouldn't otherwise be able to dissect," says Phil Hastings, curator of the Marine Vertebrate Collection. "It's going to open up a new field of research questions that can be addressed." The project's initial goal is to scan 1,000 specimens and post the 3-D images on the Web. A preliminary model for the Digital Fish Library site can be found at www.digitalfishlibrary.org. (San Diego Union-Tribune 6 Sep 2004 ) Shelflife No. 174 ( September 16, 2004 )
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20040906-9999-7m6fishsub.html

 

JULY BOOKSTORE SALES SOFT

Bookstore sales remained soft with July revenue off for the fourth month in a row. July 2004 bookstore sales of $1,153 million were 1.9 percent lower than the $1,175 million seen in July 2003. Bookstore sales continued to disappoint, especially when contrasted with the strong performance of overall retail for the same period. Overall retail of $347 billion for July 2004 was 7.4 percent better than the $323 billion in July

2003-2004 RETAIL SALES for BOOKSTORES (unadjusted)

Period

2003 Final
(Millions of Dollars)

2004
(Millions of Dollars)

% Increase
2004 Over 2003

January

2,172

2,153

(0.9)

February

1,043

1,144

9.7

March

963

1,067

10.8

April

1,018

1,016

(0.2)

May

1,143

1,097

(4.0)

June

1,222

1,191

(2.5)

July

1,175

1,153 (p)

(1.9)

YTD

8,736

8,821

1.0

(p) Preliminary figure

Note: Estimates reflect sales of all types of participating bookstores, including trade, college, religious, chain stores (including superstores), and others. A bookstore is defined as any retail establishment with sales comprised of more than 50 percent new books and periodicals, and estimates include sales of all products in these stores. Source: Bureau of the Census, Current Retail Trade Branch. Bookselling This Week 9/16/04 http://news.bookweb.org/2863.html

MICROSOFT FLIP-FLOP MAY SIGNAL BLOG CLOG
The issue has been in the spotlight for much of this month, following a decision by Microsoft to abbreviate developer blogs both on its Web site and in syndication, citing a bandwidth crunch. The Redmond , Wash. , software giant stopped delivering the full text of postings on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) to blog subscribers, requiring them instead to follow a link to read the postings in their entirety. Facing a clamor of criticism from its own developers, Microsoft on Tuesday backtracked on that decision.
What's new: Microsoft recently reversed itself on a decision to abbreviate developer blogs both on its Web site and in syndication, citing bandwidth. B ottom line: As blogging gains popularity, network admin istrators could face tough choices in meeting a demand that promises to put new strains on server resources. cnet.com 9/16/04 http://news.com.com/Microsoft+flip-flop+may+signal+blog+clog/2100-1032_3-5368454.html


UNDER AMAZON’S INFLUENCE
Amazon has launched an editorial feature called "Writers Under the Influence," where they present short original essays from 23 writers discussing the book that influenced them the most. Hyperlinked to a variety of related books for sale of course. Featured writers include Jonathan Ames, Meghan Daum, James Frey, Aleksandar Hemon, Brad Land, and Amanda Eyre Ward. Publishers Lunch 9/17/04

 

FEDS NAB SOFTWARE PIRATES

Federal officials have broken up a software-piracy ring and seized pirated copies of Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec software valued at ne arl y $87 million. The two-year investigation, called Operation Digital Marauder, also led to indictments of 11 individuals from California , Texas , and Washington . Those arrested are accused of making illegal copies of software—mostly of Microsoft products—and of printing counterfeit packaging materials and other documentation to accompany the software in distribution. Microsoft has worked to make its packaging materials more difficult to copy, adding security features such as copper holographic interwoven threads that spell out certain words, but pirates are increasingly able to replicate many of those features. Microsoft advises consumers who are unsure of the legitimacy of software they are buying to be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. Internet News, 17 September 2004 Edupage, September 17, 2004 http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3409361

 

TEXTBOOK PRICES ON THE RISE

Some college and public-interest groups charge that the publishing industry is forcing textbook prices higher by introducing unnecessary new editions and packaging books with expensive study materials that not all students want or need. The National Association of College Bookstores says wholesale prices of college textbooks have risen ne arl y 40 percent in the past five years. And students are finding that many of the same books are sold overseas at much lower prices. Washington Post 9/18/04 UB Daily 9/20/04 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30151-2004Sep17.html

 

KIRKUS FOR HIRE

Kirkus Reviews is putting its 71 years worth of "credibility, integrity, and pedigree" up for sale to "self-published, e-published and POD authors. Any publisher seeking greater exposure for a title can gain awareness through our network of influential readers and buyers." Under a new program called Kirkus Discoveries, authors and publishers are invited to "commission a review," for $350. Those reviews will be displayed at KirkusDiscoveries.com (which currently points to the main Kirkus home page), and "the best submissions" also will get included in monthly e-mail newsletters. The site description is unclear on whom these newsletters will be sent to, though it promotes the concept as a way of eliciting rights interest and highlights unspecified access to an "audience of rights agents, booksellers, publishers, book distributors and Hollywood producers." (We always understood librarians to be a large component of Kirkus' traditional circulation, though they are not mentioned.) Kirkus is also launching a second pay-for-promo program called "Kirkus Reports." Covering a broad range of lifestyle books, the Reports appear to be weekly e-mail newsletters, sent to journalists and editors, recommending titles to bear in mind for coverage. "As a co-op marketing partnership between Kirkus and publishers, this is a pay service, at $95/title, with opportunities for bulk rates." Publishers Lunch 9/20/04 http://www.kirkusreviews.com/kirkusreviews/discoveries/index.jsp

 

MORE FROM KIRKUS

We heard more from Kirkus Reviews about their new initiatives after publication yesterday. The Discoveries program, under which reviews can be commissioned, is targeting traditional publishers as well as the self-published. Managing director and editor in chief of parent VNU's US Literary Group Jerome Kramer says the program is designed "for any title that the publisher or author feels has been unfairly overlooked." Kirkus currently reviews about 5,000 titles a year, which is but a small fraction of the number of new books published every year. Kramer points out that the promotional copy we saw on the web site is preliminary, and that the program has not officially launched yet. They expect to issue the first Discoveries newsletter before the end of the year. The Kirkus Reports e-newsletters will begin later this month, and should build to five or six different subject categories shortly. Both publications will be sent as opt-in e-mails, and the company has been sending targeted solicitations to selected current Kirkus subscribers and more general media contacts. Publishers Lunch 9/21/04

 

REED AND GOOGLE IN TALKS TO SHARE REVENUE

Reed Elsevier is in discussion with internet search engine Google about a possible revenue-sharing agreement. Executives from the publishing group have had several meetings with Google and are trialing the concept, which would see Reed receive a small payment for each user directed to one of its websites. Reed's scientific publishing business generates around a third of the group's profits, and some industry analysts regard Google and other search engines as potential competitors. Many scientists post their research on university websites, which can be accessed free of charge. Google directs its users to Reed's sites, but Reed does not now receive a share of the revenue generated by the traffic. Google has similar revenue-sharing arrangements with other companies, but a deal with Reed would be one of the biggest of its kind. Reed could come to similar agreements with Yahoo and Microsoft. The Observer 9/19/04 Open Access News 9/21/04 http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1307667,00.html

 

FREELY AVAILABLE REPORT A SURPRISE BEST SELLER

The 9-11 Commission report, which can be freely downloaded from a go vern ment site, has proven to be a surprise best seller, providing evidence that online availability does not necessarily harm (and may indeed help) sales. The book version of the report has sold more than 600,000 copies. BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 9/21/04 http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,64828,00.html

 

LOSS GROWS IN GERMAN LIBRARY FIRE
About 50,000 books were irreparably damaged by the fire which swept through the top floor of the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar e arl ier this month, twice as many as previously thought. Classic works from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were lost in the 16th-century palace in the city where Goethe , Germany 's most revered writer, lived and supervised the collection for 35 years. "The damages are much more terrible than we thought on the night of the fire," Helmut Seemann, president of the Weimar Classics Foundation, which supports the library, said yesterday. In addition to those lost, about 62,000 books were damaged, about 20% of the collection. Restoring them will cost an estimated €50m-€60m (£35m-£40m) and take seven years. The fire also destroyed 37 paintings and damaged another 100 paintings, 80 sculptures and 20 drawings. The Guardian 9/22/04 http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1309958,00.html

 

CHALLENGES FOR OPEN SOURCE

The Chronicle of Higher Education devotes its 9/24/04 Section B to issues of open source software. In addition to highlighting a sample of higher education open source software, it identifies five challenges for open source: agreeing on what open source means; building a community; securing budget s for ‘free’ software; getting institutions to abandon existing products; and working with companies, not against them. In addition to its substantive articles, the issue provides a very useful list of selected readings on open source. Chronicle of Higher Education 9/24/04 http://chronicle.com/indepth/infotech/

 

THAT WEB SITE'S PRETTY, YES, BUT DOES IT WORK?

Many—perhaps most—museums nowadays boast full, sometimes elaborate and usually costly Web sites to augment their physical presence. But few conduct usability tests to see how effective and helpful those sites are, say library science professors Paul F. Marty and Michael Twidale (UIUC). To illustrate the importance of such testing, the two conceived their own "scenario-based evaluations" of 36 museum Web sites, then devised a framework that points out common usability flaws they hope museums will use to fashion ever-more useful Web sites and to conduct their own studies. They found, for example, that museum Web sites have large amounts of rich content. Eager to share their tremendous resources, museum professionals often offer thousands of database records and many pages with interactive features. But too much of a good thing can confuse and frustrate users, who find themselves unable to use the museums Web site to complete s impl e tasks. They also found that museum Web sites often have artistically designed graphical user interfaces. But beauty doesn't always go hand in hand with usability. Artistically designed interfaces may bring only confusion to the user who s impl y wants to know "what do I do now?" (First Monday Sep 2004) ShelfLife, No. 175 ( September 23 2004 ) http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_9/marty/index.html

 

THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING

Consultant William M.K. Trochim says that textbooks of the future should be very small, more customized, and globalized. "Professors should be able go to the Web, look at a list of contents, click off the sections they want, indicate what order they want them in and create their own tailored, personalized textbook in any major language they need. Students should then be able to interact with this text on the Web, access it in a uniquely customized printed form, or both." He thinks that traditional publishers

move too slowly and are too limited by the old-fashioned stereotypical textbook model, and that newer, more agile publishers are motivated to understand the needs of the professors and students, and are innovative enough to react to those needs—"and beyond this, they are willing to try new things and use technology in new and different ways, helping make the latest vision of textbook publishing a reality." (Syllabus Online 21 Sep 2004 ) ShelfLife, No. 175 ( September 23 2004 ) http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=9893

 

DUTCH REPORT SAYS SWETS "IN TROUBLE," NEEDS SHAREHOLDER INVESTMENT

According to press reports in Europe , subscription service Swets & Zeitlinger is "in trouble" and needs immediate refinancing after accounting errors found by the company have apparently turned the company's previously reported black ink to red. According to an article this week in the Dutch edition of the Financial Times, as a result of its new accounting, Swets no longer "meets the credit conditions" of its banks, and requires an immediate capital injection of 45 million euros, roughly $55 million, from shareholders. The latest news exacerbates concerns among librarians and publishers about the financial health of Swets. Academic librarians this week voiced reservations about the company's fiscal health, and some publishers, still feeling the effects of the collapse of divine/Rowecom/Faxon, said they were monitoring the situation as well. Unlike divine, however, which ramped up and flamed out in a four-year period that included an IPO and more than 90 acquisitions, Swets is considered a premium service provider, a billion dollar global company with 23 offices around the world and over 100 years of history. Roughly 25 percent of its business is in North America . Concern about Swets' fiscal health first surfaced this summer when news of the accounting errors and planned layoffs surfaced in the Dutch press. In August, a Swets official, who asked not be named, told the LJ Academic Newswire that the layoffs were part of an efficiency plan, and that the accounting errors were being resolved. In two separate, brief statements addressing developments this week, Swets officials said they would offer no detailed information before the shareholders meeting on Friday. They said, however, that the company was "operationally sound" and that there was a "high level of confidence" among shareholders and management that the matter would be resolved at the meeting. The company said it expects "the provision of new investment funds by our shareholders" and that it would use part of the new funds to "restructure" the organization and to "further improve service and efficiency for the longer term." John Martin, director of business development and marketing for Swets, told the LJ Academic Newswire that the company would likely issue a statement on Friday or Monday regarding the situation. Library Journal Academic News Wire: September 23, 2004

 

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