Issue No. 31

November 18, 2002


Paula Kaufman, University Librarian




The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hewlett-Packard have formally launched DSpace—a new system for electronically archiving books, lecture notes and scientific data created by research institutions. MIT and HP hope that the DSpace project will lead to the creation of a virtual library that combines the collections of multiple research universities, and MIT is already in discussions with Cambridge, Cornell and others about linking their libraries to the DSpace system. Corporations and government agencies have also been in contact with MIT. Eventually, MIT's system, which currently can hold two terabytes of data, will contain more than a petabyte, or a quadrillion bytes of data. The project began about 18 months ago in response to the increasingly unwieldy volume of data that universities must catalog and preserve.   ShelfLife 11/7/02



In an article in Nature, MIT Library Director Ann Wolpert writes about the effect of universities’ electronic repositories such as DSpace on traditional publishing.  For the foreseeable future, she writes, it is likely that traditional peer-reviewed journals will persist in their historical niche of documenting the record of advances in disciplines.  Well-regarded and heavily-used e-print services in a variety of subject areas have yet to eliminate peer-reviewed journals as the tool of choice for the permanent record of a discipline.  Likewise, faculty will not lightly abandon an evaluation system that has served them reasonably well for centuries.  The most interesting aspect of institutional repositories will be in the alternative forms of communication that emerge as faculty begin to exploit the capabilities of an open, interoperable system.  Read more at



Forget e-books. While the generation currently being raised on GameBoys and PDAs matures, MacMillan Chief Executive Richard Charkin says their print on demand (POD) technology will prove even more potent.  "The electronic revolution is not the e-book, but print-on-demand," Charkin told a throng of nearly 600 librarians, publishers, and vendors at the Charleston Conference on November 1, "and librarians have a highly significant role to play in it." Charkin lauded the development of POD technology, calling its development "the fastest maturation of anything in this industry, ever." He posited that the current publishing challenge for books is that 70 per cent of the book's traditional value chain still lies in distribution. According to Charkin, books are handled at least 25 times—and maybe as many as 50 times—in the distribution chain before ever reaching a consumer. But within five years, Charkin believes, POD will alter that scenario, with the proliferation of small, silent printing machines in libraries, retail outlets like Kinko's, and college bookstores, eliminating the whole problem of market proximity—or where to print a book. Of course, POD is very much a work in progress. On the technology side, POD books don't reach the quality of traditionally printed books, and few firms are filling orders for POD. Meanwhile some UK authors have claimed that POD allows publishers to cheat authors, since it guarantees that books never go out of print and thus prevents rights from reverting to authors, as is customary when books are put out of print.  What will this all mean for libraries—and more specifically, library budgets? Charkin conceded that technological advances and the changing landscape of the industry were creating "downward pressure" in pricing. LJ Academic Library News Wire 11/7/02



According to the Association of American Publishers' monthly domestic sales report, the economic contraction in 2002 continues to take its toll on university press sales figures, with university press paperbacks sales declining for August 2002, and hard covers continuing to perform weakly. Sales of STM (science, technology, and medicine) and business titles, meanwhile, increased 7.8 percent over August 2001, with year-to-date sales up 6.3 percent through August. University press paperback sales dropped sharply in August, 9.8 percent, leaving sales increases for the year at 3.6 percent. Year-to-date numbers had been up 6 percent after a strong July. Paperback returns, however, also dropped, 10.9 percent. Yearly returns of paperbacks stood at 12 percent. Sales of university press hardcover titles in August fell a staggering 26.8 percent, leaving yearly sales down 16.3 percent. The data reflect results from 11 professional publishers, including Marcel Dekker, McGraw- Hill, Harcourt and John Wiley & Sons, and from 29 university presses, including those associated with the University of Chicago, Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton.   LJ Academic Library News Wire 11/7/02



Stanford University Press has let go a top editor and will cut the number of books it publishes in the humanities, an area for which the press is known. Helen Tartar, the humanities editor, was laid off last month, and her responsibilities have "devolved" to Norris Pope, previously the history editor, said Geoffrey Burn, the press's director. One scholar called the decision a "dire sign for the humanities" at the press. SEE



Prior to the 1980s, the Brigham Young University (BYU) Press, Provo, UT, was a fairly robust operation that put out a range of books. After financial troubles set in, the press put its logo on ice, and the BYU Press publishing arm was replaced in 1984 by BYU Print Services. After 13 years out of action, the BYU Press logo returned in 1997, although on a small scale, and the BYU Press logo—now falling under the purview of the Academic Vice President's office—is once again appearing on bookshelves. But don't expect too much. "BYU Press is not an organization, it's not an office, it's just a logo," Noel B. Reynolds, associate academic vice president, told the DAILY UNIVERSE, the BYU student newspaper. Reynolds said that campus departments can apply to use the BYU logo, and that the principal reason for taking the logo out of dry-dock was to "enhance distribution of books to university libraries" throughout the nation. Unlike a typical university press catalog, religious texts are fueling the mini-revival of the BYU Press. BYU officials, however, told reporters that, while they couldn't "remember a season when a larger number of high quality books" were being published by BYU's scholars, in reality such activity will likely tail off. A BYU official said that the university was more or less "trying to clear out a lot of our manuscripts" in order to focus efforts on the publication of the papers of Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  LJ Academic NewsWire 11/14/02



A new report from the National Academy of Sciences predicts that information technology is likely to reshape research universities dramatically—changing how they are organized, financed, and governed—and will also prod the institutions to emphasize instruction more heavily.  The report warns academe against "complacency" in the face of fast-paced technological developments and new competition from online universities and for-profit institutions. It cautions that research universities should respond "with carefully considered strategies backed by prudent developments—not just to avoid extinction but to actively cultivate opportunity." The document, titled Preparing for the Revolution: Information Technology and the Future of the Research University, was written by a committee that included current and former college administrators, leaders of higher-education groups, foundation officials, and industry officials—but no representatives from faculty groups.  The report says the changes will be driven by expanded computer-network bandwidth and dramatic improvements in both hardware and software, such as notebook computers vastly more powerful than today's models and programs called "software agents" that will autonomously collect information requested by a user. In light of those developments, the report suggests a possible future for higher education that may not sit well with many faculty members: an academe dominated by freelance instructors selling their services to many institutions, which in turn compete for students who buy courses a la carte from many different colleges.  For example, the report predicts that information technology, by allowing students to learn both at a distance and at their own pace, will undercut two commonplace features of undergraduate instruction: lectures and a common reading list. Rather, students will collaborate online with one another and their instructor. The report also warns about the potential impact of competition from for-profit institutions, such as the University of Phoenix and Jones International University. The report says that research universities subsidize their research and graduate training with profits made from large lecture courses and from professional training—areas into which for-profit universities are likely to expand. "Among other recommendations, the report says that research universities must go to greater lengths to train faculty members to use technology.”They are unprepared for the new plug-and-play generation of students."



Anyone who's read Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land knows that to "grok" something is to understand it completely. Now, to help you grok the Net—or at least visually organize the results of your next Web search—comes Grokker, software that creates a visual map of your search engine results or the files on your own PC. Grokker, which is attracting significant interest from large corporations and universities, strives for categorization before navigation. By analyzing each document's metadata, Grokker first creates general categories, then visually depicts each document in a series of flower-like clusters. Groxis, the company behind Grokker, was started by Paul Hawken, best known as co-founder of Smith & Hawken, the upscale gardening equipment catalog.  There have been many previous attempts at text visualization, and dozens of commercial efforts to go beyond traditional directory listings for organizing

Information, but none have been commercially successful. Groxis's chief technology officer, Jean-Michel Decombe, argues that Grokker uses a more universal approach than previous tools. One convert is the Stanford University library, which has modified its online Socrates catalog system to be viewed by Grokker. "It shows sufficient promise that we're thinking of giving it to our entire community," said university librarian Michael Keller. "Potentially, it will not only give our students and faculty a way to view their own information world, but also our thousands of e-journals and hundreds of databases." Grokker will be available in several versions, including a basic $149 program, and is currently available for download as a preview beta at ShelfLife 11/7/02



Speaking on what she calls "the treacherous frontiers of copyright law," first amendment lawyer Marjorie Heins outlined the state of copyright law in the United States. Notably, she addressed the numerous extensions of the Copyright Act, which have left us with a situation today wherein books, movies and music can be copyright-protected virtually forever. Combine this endless copyright with the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which Heins calls "the industry's dream answer to the problem of copying on the Internet." The DMCA not only makes it a crime to circumvent the publishing industry's encryption devices in order to access works, but also criminalizes the intellectual process of creating or distributing circumvention tools. Heins argues that current law undermines the built-in safety valves of copyright law. For example, the first sale doctrine states that copyright owners control the first sale of their works, but after that, purchasers can give or sell them to whomever they desire. Yet the industry's encryption of copyrighted works today drastically undermines buyers' ability to exercise the first sale doctrine. "Copyright enforcement will never be perfect," she says, "nor should it be. As numerous commentators have observed, a leaky system is best, for culture and free expression."  ShelfLife 11/7/02



In the November-December issue of Searcher, Carol Ebbinghouse surveys a very wide range of initiatives to give away digital content, from free software and music, to science and scholarship. She quotes at length from the BOAI.  The article includes a useful list of web sites and discusses the movements and groups dedicated to liberating ideas, inventions, software, writings, music, and other products based on open systems.



John Willinsky has written an important article on the contradictions of copyright in scholarly publishing. He looks closely at the copyright implications of commercial and open-access publishing. "I have been struck in exploring the case for open access by how the very principles of copyright law, oddly enough, appear to be on its side....With the emergence of a new publishing medium, enterprising researchers and others have introduced a second economic model - open access - into scholarly publishers. This model invites and supports a wider readership, on a far more global basis, and is far more in accord with the copyright interests of researchers and those who would back such scholarly and scientific activities."



The audio files of the two presentations at MIT's recent panel discussion, Copyright and Culture (November 6), are now online. The two speakers were Siva Vaidhyanathan and Jonathan Zittrain. The forum focused on the ways in which copyright law affects individual artists and the intellectual life of the community at large.



Cries for space, convenience and today's tasks are pushing aside a vast storehouse of artifacts, culture and history, says author Dan Nadel. Historic photos, newspapers, finely detailed lithographs submitted to the U.S. Patent Office—complete with successive notations from patent officers—are hitting the trash bins to make way for tomorrow's detritus. That's why opponents of the Bill Gates-owned Corbis image collection should simmer down about the lack of immediate availability of the images and rejoice that someone is preserving them, says Nadel. The core of the Corbis image archives, for example, is the Otto Bettmann collection of 7.5 million unique images used the world over. Before Corbis moved them to the Iron Mountain storage facility in western Pennsylvania, acetate negatives were badly decomposing, and photos were curling and yellowing in Bettmann's Manhattan office. Bettmann properties will be stored in the facility at subzero temperatures to preserve them for, caretakers hope, thousands of years. It's open to the public by appointment, and some 225,000 images are already available online for browsing. Scanning is an ongoing daily activity; and if the Web resource doesn't suffice, any researcher can call Corbis and ask about specific images and topics. ShelfLife 11/14/02       



A bill written by Rep. Jim Barcia (D-Mich.) would use $47 million of federal funds to support in-progress projects studying technology standards. Barcia wrote the bill after reading a report written by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that attributes losses of $1 billion annually in the U.S. automotive industry to problems of interoperability. Research into XML-based standards would likely see much of the funding if the bill passes because, as Ric Jackson of NIST said, XML may be the approach that leads to the grail of seamless interoperability.   Edupage 11/11/02,1283,56287,00.html



The LA Times recently editorialized about the Administration’s intention to outsource printing contracts.  "The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy....Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black marker. If [OMB Director] Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage for eternity.",0,7711960.story



On November 4, the lights went out on PubSCIENCE, the U.S. Department of Energy's fledgling effort to offer a free multi-disciplinary database in the physical sciences. Made available October 1, 1999, PubSCIENCE allowed users to search across abstracts and citations of multiple publishers at no cost. PubSCIENCE was intended to facilitate research for physical scientists much in the same way that PubMed Central does for the life sciences. However, the effort quickly became the target of an intense lobbying campaign, spearheaded by the Washington-based Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a coalition of for-profit and not-for-profit members including Reed Elsevier, ISI, Chemical Abstracts Services, and Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. The SIIA claimed that PubSCIENCE competed with members' services, arguing that government initiatives should be confined to government information only, and not act as a secondary publisher. Librarians and scientists say the closing of PubSCIENCE is a chilling development and could call into question a number of worthy government-supported

information programs, including PubMed Central. Of particular note, the Department of Energy decided to close the service despite overwhelming support solicited through its web site. In total, 230 comments supported PubSCIENCE versus seven from publishers asking it be taken down. Further angering supporters, the DOE also declined to solicit comments in the Federal Register, despite a plea from the American Library Association to do so. This led librarians to believe that the decision to close the service was pre-determined, based on the SIIA lobbying effort and not on its usefulness to the public.  LJ Academic News Wire, 11/12/02,1283,56330,00.html



Having persuaded the Energy Department to pull the plug on PubScience, a Web site that offered free access to scientific and technical articles, commercial publishers are taking aim at government-funded information services offering free legal and agricultural data.

After more than a year of pressing Congress and the Bush administration, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) succeeded Nov. 4 in having PubScience shut down. It now acknowledges that it is looking at other databases and agencies.  Publishers, including Dutch giant Elsevier Science, argued that PubScience amounted to improper government-funded competition with commercial information services. Emily Sheketoff, associate executive director of the American Library Association's Washington Office, offered a harsh assessment of the PubScience shut down.  She predicted that the elimination of PubScience will have a "big financial impact" on research libraries. Libraries now will have to pay publishing companies for a service they got for free from the Energy Department, Sheketoff said. "As libraries have shrinking resources because local tax bases and state resources are shrinking, it's really tough to put more financial pressure on them." SIIA said it is fairer to charge researchers for the articles they use than to charge taxpayers for the cost of running a Web site that makes them available for free. One site the SIIA is unlikely to challenge is PubMed, the National Library of Medicine site ( that provides free access to millions of medical articles and research papers. PubMed was established much earlier and has a strong foothold, LeDuc said. "We have no intention of going after PubMed."



The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Agriculture are testing a new technology product from Adobe that allows the agencies to digitize documents and enables citizens to download those documents as PDF files. The Adobe Document Server for Reader Extension builds on current use by many federal agencies, which distribute official forms and documents using Adobe's PDF software. That software allows users to access forms online and print them out, but prevents them from actually completing the forms and saving them electronically. But pending deadlines imposed by Congress requiring agencies to move more of their services online have spurred government offices to find new ways to create interactive documents. In January, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plans to begin issuing requirements for accepting PDF documents for archiving purposes.  ShelfLife 11/14/02



The Supreme Court has agreed to decide if public libraries can be forced to install software blocking sexually explicit Web sites. Congress has struggled to find ways to protect children from Internet pornography without infringing on free speech rights for Web site operators. Lawmakers have passed three laws since 1996, but the Supreme Court struck down the first and blocked the second from taking effect. The latest measure, signed by President Clinton in 2000, requires public libraries receiving federal technology funds to install filters on their computers or risk losing aid. A three-judge federal panel ruled the Children's Internet Protection Act violates the First Amendment because the filtering programs also block sites on politics, health, science and other non-pornographic topics. The Bush administration argued libraries are not required to have X-rated movies and pornographic magazines and shouldn't have to offer access to pornography on their computers. Congress knew the latest law would be challenged, and directed any appeals to go straight to the Supreme Court after a trial before a three-judge panel.



DARE (Digital Academic Repositories) is a new Dutch initiative to increase the visibility, accessibility and impact of research literature by Dutch scientists. All Dutch universities will participate in making their research output digitally accessible in an OAI-compliant form. The project is funded by the Dutch government, administered by SURF (a Dutch ICT organization for higher education), and sponsored by the Royal Library, the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.



A treasure trove of more than 50,000 manuscripts, paintings and artifacts from ancient caves and temples along the Silk Road are going on the web. In actuality, the collection is spread out all over the world, but researchers will now be able to find it all in digital form on a website developed jointly by the British Library and the National Library of China.  The materials recovered from the Dunhuang cave in China in the early 20th Century offer a glimpse into the daily life of merchants, officials, soldiers, monks and farmers in Silk Road towns.  Among the artifacts are hundreds of paintings on silk and tens of thousands of manuscripts in more than 15 languages and scripts. The cave's contents were dispersed with shortly after their discovery in 1900. Foreign archaeologists and explorers traveling along the Silk Road would visit the site and walk away with groups of manuscripts. The artifacts are now spread across the world, in major museums in Beijing, London, Paris and St Petersburg.  The aim of this project is to recreate a virtual Dunhuang cave to give scholars worldwide free access to this geographically scattered material from their laptops. The collection can be found at



Magazines today must respect a reader's time, said Time deputy managing editor Stephen Koepp, who joined the publication in 1981. "We used to say, 'What should people read?'" Koepp said. "[Readership] was an oil well then. Now we need to

keep it steadily pumping. Nowadays you have to earn the readers' attention week after week." This helps explain today's trend of magazines shortening their articles, adding more splashy graphics and photos, and generally trying to create more entry points for preoccupied readers. It also helps explain the continuing explosion of niche magazines aimed at ever-narrowing fragments of the population. While magazines compete with specialized cable programming and the even more fragmented niche content available on the Internet, they're also competing with each other. Last year there were more than 17,690 titles, compared to just 9,657 in 1975. For every one that succeeds, 100 to 200 fold.  NEWS-ON-NEWS/The Ifra Trend Report: No. 171 (November 13, 2002)


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