Issue No. 38

February 24, 2003

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian





On February 10, 2003, a resolution recommending approval of UCITA (the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act) by the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates was withdrawn by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), the body responsible for drafting UCITA. The ABA delegates were asked to vote on a resolution approving UCITA's readiness for consideration by state legislatures.  A positive ABA vote is a customary step in the process of successfully passing proposed uniform laws such as UCITA.  The withdrawal of the UCITA resolution followed in the wake of increasing opposition to this controversial act within the ABA.  The withdrawal of the resolution indicates that UCITA lacks the consensus and support needed for successful passage of a uniform state law. Currently, UCITA is an active bill in Oklahoma.



Emphasizing the importance of preserving digital information, Librarian of Congress James Billington notes that the average Web site has an online lifetime of only 44 days: "The stuff that survives tends to be the least valuable: video games, particularly violent video games, pornography, adolescent chatter from chat rooms, even among adults. What vanishes is important scientific data sets, important other information that is published only in digital form. We are in the process of consulting with large numbers of people. This is a shared distributed responsibility because it is such an enormous form." (The Hill 11 Feb 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 93 (13 February 2003)



The use of scholarly documents as references for term papers and other research has plummeted at U.S. colleges and universities as students turn toward easier-to-access Internet resources. At the same time, professors have found that the URLs cited in many student term papers are often "broken links"—they're either incorrect or refer to documents no longer available on the Internet. A Cornell University study shows that when professors set minimal bibliographic guidelines for doing research, the number of citations of scholarly materials returned to pre-Internet levels. The findings are based on a longitudinal study, conducted between 1996 and 2001, of the research habits of undergraduate students taking a microeconomics class offered by Cornell professor John Abowd. In 2001, Abowd established minimum guidelines for term paper citations and began deducting points when the citations were incorrect. As a result, the percentage of functional URLs cited in bibliographies soared from 55% to 82%. In addition, the total number of Web citations declined to 13% in 2001 from 22% in 2000, the peak year. Students began referring to original sources, such as government publications and legal documents, although the use of books in research has still not recovered to pre-Internet levels.  (  3 Feb 2003)  ShelfLife, No. 93 (13 February 2003)



A newly funded language technology consortium will create tools to facilitate use of the large digital corpora of important cultural heritage texts that have been created in the past 20 years. The consortium is jointly funded by the European Commission Information Society Technologies program and the United States National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative, and will develop new computational tools designed to transform the way that humanists work with the large electronic corpora of Greek and Latin texts available from groups such as the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the Packard Humanities Institute, the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, and the Perseus Digital Library. The computational techniques will be available to individual scholars, students and other users as an integrated part of a digital library system. The consortium has set the following three goals: 1) to adapt discoveries from the field of computational linguistics and information retrieval and visualization in ways that are specifically designed to help students and scholars in the humanities advance their work; 2) to establish an international framework with open standards for the long-term preservation of data, the sharing of metadata, and interoperability between affiliated digital libraries; 3) to lower the barriers to reading Greek, Latin, and Old Norse texts in their original languages, this last being the ultimate goal and driving force behind the consortium. (Ariadne 14 Jan 2003) ShelfLife, No. 93 (13 February 2003)


Journal Editors and Scientists Call for More Caution in Publishing Potentially Dangerous Research





Thirty-two journal editors and biologists recently released a statement that calls for greater caution in reviewing and publishing scientific results that could be misused or dangerous. The question of when and how to publish scholarly information that could be mined by terrorists or others seeking to do harm has intensified since the September 11 attacks and the anthrax attacks that followed. Some government officials have threatened to impose restrictions, and scientists and publishers have discussed crafting their own approaches, in part to ward off such intervention. The statement released on Saturday is one such effort. The statement, which will be published in Science, Nature, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that some information is unethical to publish, but it does not define what experiments or facts would fall into that category. Any procedures or definitions developed by journals must take into account "that open publication brings benefits not only to public health but also in efforts to combat terrorism," the scientists and editors wrote, since such papers can point to counterterror strategies or ways to treat and prevent the effects of biological weapons. When editors conclude that papers may result in greater harm than benefit to society, the reports of such studies should be modified or not published, the statement says. Some journals have already established procedures for finding problematic papers, and those procedures could serve as models for journals just beginning to grapple with security issues.  Some journals, such as Science and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have recruited security experts with whom they can consult, if necessary.



Today the Librarian of Congress announced that the Library of Congress has received approval from the U.S. Congress for its Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), which will enable the Library to launch the initial phase of building a national infrastructure for the collection and long-term preservation of digital content.  Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives Laura Campbell is overseeing this effort for the Library. Congressional approval of the plan means the Library can move forward with developing its details and Congress will release funds for the next phase of NDIIPP. The NDIIPP legislation asks the Library to raise up to $75 million in private funds and in-kind contributions, which Congress will match dollar-for-dollar.  In December 2000, Congress authorized the Library of Congress to develop and execute a congressionally approved plan for a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. A $99.8 million congressional appropriation was made to establish the program. According to Conference Report (H. Rept. 106-1033), "The overall plan should set forth a strategy for the Library of Congress, in collaboration with other federal and nonfederal entities, to identify a national network of libraries and other organizations with responsibilities for collecting digital materials that will provide access to and maintain those materials. ... In addition to developing this strategy, the plan shall set forth, in concert with the Copyright Office, the policies, protocols and strategies for the long-term preservation of such materials, including the technological infrastructure required at the Library of Congress." The legislation mandates that the Library work with federal entities such as the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and "other federal, research and private libraries and institutions with expertise in telecommunications technology and electronic commerce policy." The goal is to build a network of committed partners working through preservation architecture of defined roles and responsibilities.



The first World Book Day Online Festival will be held on March 6, 2003. It will showcase a range of world-class authors giving interviews, talks, readings and chat sessions throughout the day, providing unique insights into the lives of authors as well as opportunities for people to interact with them and fellow readers online. A diverse range of events will be aimed at the under 5s, 5-7 year olds, 7-10 year olds, 10-14 year olds and adults, including lunchtime and evening slots for adult workers. There will be a live web cast event, never seen before film footage and opportunities for online chats with authors. As well as reading from their work, the authors will be sharing their own reading preferences. Anyone will be able to take part in the Festival through the People's Network, a UK Lottery-funded initiative connecting every public library in the country to the internet. Schools will also be creating their own linked events, and working in partnership with libraries to involve as many children as possible in this exciting Day. The World Book Day Online Festival has been funded by the Arts Council of England, and is managed by World Book Day, Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, The Reading Agency and Colman Getty PR.  For information about other World Book Day 2003 activities, please also visit



Using online auction searches, Bruce Johnson, a buyer for the Indiana Historical Society, found love letters written nearly 100 years ago between an Indiana farmer and his girlfriend. He also uncovered photographs of Confederate prisoners of war at a camp in Indianapolis.  Museums and historical societies across the country now look beyond neighborhood garage sales and antique shop piles, just as NASA contractors have turned to online auctions for spare computer parts and lawyers have found old documents and other evidence in the expanse of cyberspace. These acquisitions have helped museums do more than plug holes on a wall and fill display cases: They put a real face on the past that only a visitor's imagination could do before.  The old beer bottles and board games help shed light on how people lived way back when.  Though eBay is the largest online auction site, and the most popular among curators, there are literally thousands of sites — with names like and Haggle Online — where they can bid. For an exhibit on 1940s American culture, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History went to eBay to round up war bonds and period stamps. The Vermont Historical Society bought skiing brochures printed when the state's industry first began to boom.  An advertisement in an early 1900s copy of the "Ice Cream Quarterly," looking for franchises willing to sell Eskimo Pies in Omaha, Neb., caught the eye of curators at the Nebraska Historical Society in Lincoln. They also bought china pieces with a pattern that had inspired a Nebraska quilter. Before online auctions, museums usually found only the valuable items like wedding dresses that people saved through generations—not the everyday dungarees.



Should scientists meekly sign away the copyright for their research articles upon publication? Can the obscene costs of some institutional subscriptions to specialty journals—a 2003 subscription to Elsevier Science's Brain Research runs $19,971—be justified? Would scientific research benefit from electronic access to the entire biomedical literature, rather than just brief abstracts? In this editorial from the February issue of Bio-IT World, Editor-in-Chief Kevin Davies explores the controversies surrounding copyright issues and wider access to scientific research literature—and looks at how some online publishers are attempting to deal with these thorny issues.



To meet the increasing interest in scholarly communication issues and to allow librarians and other interested parties to exchange opinions, views and news, the Association of College and Research Libraries has established a new listserv SCHOLCOMM.  SCHOLCOMM is a discussion group that provides a forum for the examination and analysis of topics such as open access to scholarly information, new models of scholarly publishing, increasing journal prices, copyright law and policy, related technologies, and federal information law and policies that impact the access of scholars, students, and the general public to scholarly information.  This listserv serves an audience of librarians, researchers, scholars, policy makers, and all who have a vested interest in the sharing of scholarly communication.

To subscribe to SCHOLCOMM list,

1) Go to the ALA web site by clicking on this link:

2) Click on ALA Lists and Discussion Groups

3) If you are already registered within the ALA structure of listservs, simply log in and scroll down to SCHOLCOMM.  Click on SCHOLCOMM, and you will be registered for the list.  If you are not already registered, you will need to follow the directions to register for access to the entire site - a simple and familiar procedure.  Once registered, you can continue the directions in the paragraph above to register specifically for the SCHOLCOMM listserv. To send a message to the list, the address is:


Recently issued Executive Order 13233 restricts access to the records of former presidents. The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (ALA) and The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) urge librarians to alert their patrons and the public about this effort to close the public record. Here are just a few books that might never have been published had this order been in effect earlier.



Says columnist John Sutherland about British university libraries.  The reasons?  Universities have expanded faster than library acquisitions budgets; content prices have exploded; the perception that the library will, after all, survive even if it doesn’t get this year’s “transfusion” of new publications; space is a nightmare: “every library is a pint pot trying to hold a quart;” remote storage makes browsing impossible; library technology “eats” money.  Sutherland notes that no university in Britain is investing adequately in its library and he attributes that to the “feeling (correct, I think) that a major overhaul in how we handle knowledge is imminent.”  Student habits are changing, knowledge is disaggregating in ways that traditional organizational systems can’t handle.  He likens the future library as the equivalent of “a pub with no beer: a university library with no books – but which will undertake to retrieve whatever you want for you” and calls upon British universities to consolidate resources in a half-a-dozen campuses, with the rest stripping down their resources drastically to concentrate on focused distance borrowing.  And his response to the blow this will give to scholarly monograph publishers?  “We don’t need the glut of publication that currently smothers discourse and bankrupts libraries.  Award promotion on teaching and academic citizenship, as well as for published scholarship.”  John Sutherland currently teaches at Cal Tech.,9826,894617,00.html



Small Press Month presents a particular focus on the vitality, diversity and importance of their work. The program is jointly organized by the Small Press Center, New York City, and the Publishers Marketing Association, in California. "Small Press Month is about the heart and soul of publishing," says Jan Nathan, Executive Director of the Publishers Marketing Association. "Independent presses are as diverse as the 1.1 million books that they publish each year, but they share much common ground. These presses cultivate talented new authors and develop influential editorial voices, taking risks with authors and ideas. If you want to uncover the growing part of the book publishing business, look no further than the titles that are currently published by the independent press." Fifty thousand independent publishers accounted for over $14 billion in sales in 1999 (well over half of total book sales), according to a comprehensive survey by the Book Industry Study Group and the Publishers Marketing Association; this figure has been on the increase since. Major events during Small Press Month include the Small Press Book Fair, the country's leading book fair for independent publishers, at the Small Press Center in midtown Manhattan, March 29-30. Over 200 independent book and magazine publishers take part, and special events include literary panels and book arts demonstrations.



"Printed information is out of date," Bill Hill of Microsoft Research announced at the November 2002 Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum in Seattle. Hill ticked off a list of reasons for his assertion: Electronic distribution is more efficient. It costs less. Digital products can easily be searched, reproduced, and archived in small space. They're even more politically correct. "You don't have to clear-cut forests to communicate," he said. Computerized devices are getting smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. And the new TabletPC device makes it possible to create a great reading experience, comparable to a book, on screen. "Tomorrow," he concluded, "it's all digital." But another speaker warned participants to consider the "dark edge" of information technology. David Levy of the University of Washington argued that society already is "bogged down in more information than we can deal with." Information overload, along with the rushing, busyness, and fragmentation of our lives, may be putting life "out of balance." This overabundance of information may even be "morally dangerous" because it may reduce our ability to focus on what is most important. "What if we begin to think about digital library work from the perspective of the need for silence and sanctuary and balance?" he asked. As "a symbol of organization and order," he said, the library can help maintain the balance our society desperately needs. ShelfLife, No. 94 (20 February 2003)



The many obvious advantages of electronic document filing have made the practice popular with lawyers and court administrators, despite legitimate concerns about the long-term preservation and viability of documents so dependent on technologies notorious for rapid obsolescence. Immediate benefits of easy filing and court space savings could turn into future handicaps if antiquated technology employing multiple platforms across multiple jurisdictions creates troublesome problems of document preservation in accessible formats. Addressing this concern clearly requires a national standard for electronically archived legal documents, and at the moment, there are two likely candidates for such a national standard. First is a version of the familiar Portable Document Format (PDF) designed especially for long-term archiving, called PDF-Archive or PDF-A. PDF files are self-contained, cross-platform documents that can be used by different users regardless of their various types of computers, printers or software. When a user sees a document in a PDF file, it appears just as it did in the original because the user is viewing an image of the original. The second format is Extensible Markup Language (XML), an application profile or restricted version of the Standardized General Markup Language. XML documents consist of storage units called "entities," which include parsed and unparsed data. The documents also contain "markup," which encodes the document's makeup and logical structure. Currently, there are committees at work on developing a standard for filing documents in both PDF-A and XML formats. Ultimately the goal is to prepare a standard for approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Some experts expect the final version of the standard to combine XML's strong cataloging and archiving abilities with PDF-A's ability to recreate a document's original image. (National Law Journal 13 Feb 2003) ShelfLife, No. 94 (20 February 2003)



US Senator Ron Wyden told attendees at the Intel-sponsored Digital Rights Summit in Silicon Valley he was close to introducing a bill that would likely require consumer electronics devices or media to be clearly labeled with explanations of any anti-copying restrictions.  Supporters hope that as consumers avoid the most restrictive technologies, the broader points about the undesirability of limiting digital media use will be made.

BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 2/20/03



Underfunded and often given up for dead, public libraries are learning new tricks for the 21st century. Libraries could wind up serving as an important channel for distributing digital content to end users says Lee Greenhouse. Here are two examples he gives:

—The Chicago Public Library system gives its patrons access to several premium-priced databases free of charge from home. Anyone with an internet connection and a library card can go the CPL's web site, from which they can use databases from such vendors as Proquest, Oxford University Press, Gale Group, and OCLC, among others.  

—The Cleveland Public Library is launching a system that lets patrons borrow eBooks by downloading them onto their PCs or personal digital assistants, such as Palms, PocketPCs, Tablet PCs, and other devices. This is a first among public libraries and will operate much the same as a traditional library lending system. A fixed number of copies of each eBook will be available for downloading. After a preset number of days, the eBook will lock out the current reader so another patron can check out the book.

“In contrast to eBooks, which follow libraries' conventional lending model, making premium databases available on the internet free of charge is a daring move which could create thorny business issues between libraries and database vendors. If thousands of people take advantage of free databases through their public libraries, database vendors may demand higher fees. Libraries could find themselves having to pay more for access or charge patrons for database use. Additionally, businesses may become reluctant to pay for content that might be easily available free with a library card and an internet connection. But for the moment, free database access remains one of the best deals in the Windy City.”  Greenhouse Effects, February 2003



Lawmakers will be making a big mistake if they bow to Hollywood pressure and enact new copyright-protection legislation based on today's Internet use patterns, says Stanford University professor Lawrence Lessig.  Currently, millions of consumers are downloading music to their PCs because slow dialup connections make it impractical to stream content quickly to a variety of devices. "In the future, it will be easier to pay for subscription services than to be an amateur database administrator who moves content from device to device. We're legislating against a background of the Internet's current architecture of content distribution, and this is a fundamental mistake," Lessig told participants at the Digital Rights Management Summit held at Intel headquarters. (AP 20 Feb 2003)  NewsScan Daily, 20 February 2003


Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has released version 47 of his authoritative Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites over 1,800 books, articles, and printed and other online sources on the electronic publication of science and scholarship. This bibliography presents selected English-language articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet. Most sources have been published between 1990 and the present; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1990 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet.


The scholarly communications are also available on line at