SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A Newsletter for the UIUC Community

Issue #7 November 19, 2001


AMERICAíS HERITAGE GETS A CHECK-UP

Heritage Preservation, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and with major funding from the Getty Grant Program, has begun work on a Heritage Health Index. The survey will gather data on the condition of collections in museums, libraries, archives, and historical societies every four years, producing a comprehensive picture of the current state of our nationís collections and their preservation needs. At present, no national survey is conducted regularly to produce credible statistics about the condition of the nationís artistic, historical, and scientific collections. Heritage Preservation has established an institutional advisory committee with representatives from organizations that advocate for institutions with collections.

Heritage Preservation is also participating in a professional assessment of the damage and loss to cultural properties in New York and Washington resulting from the September 11th attacks. Leading the survey of the affected museums, libraries, archives, and historic sites is the National Task Force on Emergency Response, a coalition of federal agencies and private non-profit organizations. The survey, under the guidance of conservators, will examine the responses, needs, and requirements for recovery of the affected institutions, collections, artifacts and historic properties. Preparedness for future emergencies will also be a major focus.

Heritage Preservation, Inc. is a Washington based non-profit dedicated to the conservation of the nationís cultural heritage. Check it out at www.heritagepreservation.org.

DRUCKER ON THE FUTURE

92-year old Peter Drucker continues to comment on the future. In a "Survey of the Near Future" entitled "The Next Society" (The Economist, 11/3/01), Drucker highlights the major anticipated demographic change in developed countries: the rapid growth of the older population and the concomitant rapid shrinking of the younger generation. He characterizes the next society as the knowledge society in which knowledge will be the key resource and knowledge workers will be the dominant group in its workforce. Its three main characteristics will be borderlessness, upward mobility, and the potential for failure as well as success. Knowledge workers will have two main needs: formal education that enables them to enter knowledge work in the first place and continuing education throughout their working lives to keep their knowledge up to date. Drucker seems to think that the continuing education needs of already well-trained and highly knowledgeable adults is a new need.

DETERMINING IMPORTANT ARTICLES IN BIOLOGY

BioMedCentral (www.biomedcentral.com) has established a new service, Faculty of 1000 (www.facultyof1000.com), which rates the quality of scientific papers in the life sciences. Determinations are made by allowing a broad group of researchers to vote on which papers they think are the most interesting and important. The Faculty of 1000 now has nearly 1500 volunteers who thus far have evaluated 350 papers; evaluation consists of assigning a rating and writing brief comments about why a paper is important. The service will be free until January 1, so itís now a good time to take a look and judge for yourself how effective you think this new quality review model will be and if, as some observers predict, it will supercede prepublication review. According to the website, subscriptions will be priced at $50 for individuals and $200 for labs. Institutional rates are dependent on a number of factors and will be quoted separately to each interested institution.

THE E-BOOK MARKET CONTINUES TO SHAKE OUT

OCLC Online Computer Library Center has made an offer to purchase substantially all the assets of netLibrary and assume certain netLibrary liabilities. netLibrary develops and markets eBooks and MetaText digital textbooks. Its eBooks are full-text electronic versions of published books that are made available through libraries for patrons to search, borrow, read, and return online, just as they perform these functions with physical books in physical libraries. Although with netLibrary eBooks users can access these resources anywhere and anytime, and perform full-text searches, the current model precludes simultaneous use of the electronic versions. Thus, to enable two library patrons to use a text simultaneously, a library must purchase two copies of the eBook. NetLibraryís current catalog contains about 40,000 titles covering a wide range of subject areas. UIUC Library users can access at www.netlibrary.com a small percentage of these texts through a subscription provided by IDAL, the Illinois Digital Academic Library (www.idal.illinois.edu). netLibrary also markets MetaText digital textbooks, interactive, web-based textbooks with enhanced teaching, collaborating, and learning tools for teachers and students. Its current catalog contains more than 160 titles.

CONFERENCE ON THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

The last fifteen years have seen a rise in both the importance and the strength of intellectual property rights in the world economy; rights have expanded in areas ranging from the human genome to the Internet and have been strengthened with legally backed digital fences, lengthened copyright terms and increased penalties. The Center for the Public Domain at Duke University (http://www.centerforthepublicdomain.org/home.html) recently held a conference to address a number of questions that arise from this change: Is this expansion of intellectual property necessary to respond to new copying technologies, and desirable because it will produce investment and innovation? Must we privatize the public domain to avoid a "tragedy of the commons," or can the technologies of cheap copying and global networks actually make common pool management more efficient than legal monopolies? Questions such as these have thrown attention on the "other side" of intellectual property: the public domain. What does the public domain do? What is its importance, its history, its role in science, art, and in the building of the Internet? How is the public domain similar to and different from the idea of a commons? Presenters included Lawrence Lessig, Pamela Samuelson, Yochai Benkler, and Carol Rose. You can read their papers at http://www.law.duke.edu/pd/papers.html.

COPYRIGHTS AND COPYWRONGS

Although the intent of the framers of the Constitution is clear and their expression about the purpose of copyright is succinct, copyright issues today are complex, confusing, and confounding. Now, in a new book written with clarity, humor, and an easily accessible style, cultural historian and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan tracks the history of American copyright law through the 20th century, from Mark Twain's exhortations for "thick" copyright protection, to recent lawsuits regarding sampling in rap music and the "digital moment," exemplified by the rise of Napster and MP3 technology. Vaidhyanathan argues that in its current punitive and highly restrictive form, American copyright law hinders cultural production, thereby contributing to the poverty of civic culture. Embedded within conflicts over royalties and infringement, he notes, are cultural values-about race, class, access, ownership, free speech, and democracy-that influence how rights are determined and enforced. (Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. New York University Press, 2001.)

MORE EBOOK WOES: PROJECT GUTENBERG ASKS FOR HELP

Project Gutenberg, the free online collection of etexts, has put out a call for donations of money, time, or resources. It recently produced its 4,000th etext, and claims to produce 100 new ones every month. It has harnessed the labor of 2,000+ volunteers. By its own estimate, it provides access to a trillion dollars' worth of etext --if you assume that access to each of its etexts is worth $2.50 and that its online texts are accessible to 1.62% of the world's population. It needs money and/or legal services to finish the job of registering as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in all 50 states to enable it to raise money in all 50 states. It also needs money for the copyright research needed to prove that certain books are in the public domain. Check out the call for help at http://www.planetebook.com/mainpage.asp?webpageid=261&nl

Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.net

 

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