Issue No. 25

September 3, 2002

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian



Around the world, scholars are busy transferring priceless paper records to digital media, ostensibly to ensure their long-term survival. The irony is, whereas many ancient manuscripts have survived more than a thousand years, the digital media being used to conserve them may become completely unreadable in a relative eye-blink. Remember those 5.25-inch floppy disks that held our computer records in the '80s? Try to find a computer today that can read them. In an attempt to solve the problem of disappearing technology, UNESCO is working to define a standard to guide governments' preservation efforts so that future historians aren't deprived of information about today's world. "What we've got to do is come up with a storage plan, every city should have one," Canadian futurist Frank Ogden says. "We have to create a whole new type of institution, essentially." Ogden, also known as Dr. Tomorrow, suggests digital information should be stored in repositories deep inside mountains or underground to guard against war, global warming and radiation. These vaults should have what Ogden calls a "technology museum" where old machines are kept. (The Tribune 12 Aug 2002) http//

Shelflife, 8/22/02


Some of you have wondered why the Library is so concerned about the environment in which we house our materials. Hereís one nightmarish reason. Moldy books at Bethany College's library have left the building empty with classes set to begin soon. Within the past month, concern over the spore situation at Wallerstedt Library has caused the evacuation of librarians and administrative offices and shut down operations within the building. Test results will determine when the building reopens. Meanwhile, students and faculty will have to use the library's Internet materials, which include its online catalog and 3,000 online publications. Professors who decide they need books anyway are given the key to the building and a warning about the mold, which poses a health risk. http//


More than half a million books have been damaged in libraries across the Czech Republic by disastrous floods, according to the Czech News Agency CTK. Damage to the national library system is estimated at $11 million. Waters have also inundated archives and related institutions, destroying irreplaceable books, prints, incunabula, and other documents. The National Library is determining the scope of damage and assessing ways to apply for foreign aid and support. Workers have begun to freeze some 30,000 soaked books immediately, as wet paper will begin to rot and acquire mold in a matter of days if left untreated. Officials say the race is on to find submerged volumes in mud, as soldiers and volunteers were mustered to search what the receding waters left behind. Losses could rise as officials gain access to other damaged libraries. The most severe damage has occurred in Prague. Water inundated the Old Town Library and several branches, the libraries of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Archaeological and Philosophical Institutes of the Academy, and the Teaching Faculty of Charles University. Military and government archives were lost. Books in the six-million-volume National Library were saved because they are stored on upper floors. (LJ Academic news Wire 8/22/02)


Cash-strapped French conglomerate Vivendi officially put the publisher Houghton Mifflin on the block. But with nearly $2 billion in new bank financing, some analysts are saying that Vivendi may now be able to prevent the sale, or at the very least buy some time to seek a better price. Analysts have predicted that Vivendi will not be able to fetch anywhere near the $2.2 billion it paid for Houghton last year. Already industry watchers are saying that interest from educational publishers like Pearson, McGraw Hill and Reed Elsevier might lead to antitrust problems, and that Vivendi may have to sell Houghton Mifflin off in pieces to mitigate antitrust problems, much like when Reed Elsevier divvied up parts of Harcourt to the Thomson Corp. when it acquired that company last year. (LJ Academic news Wire, 8/22/02)


Freeing Information Is it Time to Make Peer Reviewed Research Free? is the title of an article by Lee Dye on "A few leading scientists are asking a simple question that could have a profound impact on how information about scientific research is disseminated. Here's the question Why shouldn't scientific research be available to anyone anywhere in the world, free of charge?" The article goes on to talk about converting journals to free electronic dissemination, but unfortunately doesn't mention the possibility of self-archiving.


Initiatives for the preservation of digital archives for future generations are heating up. The Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation awarded grants this week to Sun Microsystems and Stanford University to fund their LOCKSS ("Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe") program. That initiative allows networks of libraries to maintain redundant digital archives of e-journals. Also in recent weeks, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) issued a resolution committing their organizations to support measures that ensure preservation of digital content. The Mellon Foundation has been behind much of the current activity in this field, and Stanford has been in the forefront of efforts to scrutinize e-journal usage and define user needs. (Outsell e-briefs, 8/23/02)


The National Intellectual Property Researchers Association has filed a lawsuit against the US Patent and Trademark Office in a last-minute bid to save millions of paper documents from being destroyed under the agency's e-government initiative. (See summer issues of this newsletter for more information.) The group claims the hard-copy patent and trademark collections remain critical for researchers because the PTO's electronic database is full of holes and inaccuracies.



"The ability to browse and experience the gestalt of an array of resources has been a time-honored technique for inquiry, and the physical experience of books, maps or manuscripts is important for many," says University of Minnesota librarian Wendy Lougee in a discussion of the changing face of libraries. While its traditional image is being challenged on every front, the library as place still plays a valuable role, she says. For example, library facilities still serve a social function, providing a common ground for users to interact or a neutral site for individuals from different disciplines to meet. And, while studies show a decline in building traffic, some campuses report increased interest in 24-hour availability, and a slight increase in all-round use by undergraduate studentsperhaps because of their heavy use of library computers. But even the make-up of computer facilities is on the march, with fresh applications continually emerging. Several projects focus on creating new types of instructional services and integrating digital media and computer resources, all of which coincide with recent changes in curriculum and research methods. While still providing a place for collections, library facilities increasingly serve as environments for learning and collaboration. (Council on Library and Information Resources, No. 108 Aug 2002)

http// (Shelflife, 8/29/02)


Early results of the Ingenta Instituteís study of the impact of site licensing and consortia developments on scholarly communication indicate that consortia licensing is in a state of flux. Findings include publishers and librarians see the current consortia negotiation system as transitory, and there are insufficient funds to pay for future renewals and new signatures to consortia deals; libraries have commonly raided book budgets and found new, one-time funds to pay for consortia deals; intermediaries, such as subscription agents, have not been active in negotiating consortia deals on behalf of their library customers; instead, large commercial publishers have negotiated directly with consortia, necessitating operational changes within the publishing organization; in 2002, many large and medium-size serials publishers rely on library consortia for between 25-58% of their total revenues; and late entrants are finding the lionís share of consortia budgets have already been allocated to the first movers, but smaller publishers recognize their need to be involved in consortia dealings for fear of being locked out of future budget allocations. "The early trends suggest that the consortia deal is not the long-term answer to finding an efficient process of negotiation between publishers and libraries." http//


Fair-use rights took a hard hit in a copyright case decided on August 20. In Bowers v. Baystate Technologies the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that when a shrink-wrap license and the federal copyright statute conflict, then the license takes precedence. Moreover, the shrink-wrap license is valid even in the absence of UCITA. Many of us are aware that licensing terms often negate fair-use and other rights granted by the copyright statute. There have been two windows of hope for challenging such licensing terms federal preemption of state contract law, and the general invalidation of shrink-wrap licenses as contracts of adhesion imposed on parties with essentially no bargaining. This case closes both windows, though only the first of the two issues seems to have been fully litigated here. Now the only windows of hope are that the First Circuit is merely one of eleven, and that the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. http//


The American Library Association maintains a page on database protection legislation. The page reports developments in the Congressional negotiations on pending bills, explains what is at stake, and links to the ALA position on database policy. "The ALA is monitoring Database Protection legislation because it poses a threat to the free flow of information and the public domain."


Until now, most publishers have considered their print publications to be their archival versions and their electronic versions more abbreviated. But that may now be changing. An editorial in the August 31, 2002 issue of BMJ, Making research papers in the BMJ more accessible, reviews plans "to publish shorter, more reader friendly versions of original research papers in the print journal." The editorial includes a suggestion that "In a few years' time the research papers in the print BMJ may look more like articles in a serious newspaper, while those on could be live documents with raw data and multimedia features."

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