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November 30, 2007

Million Book Project Reaches 1.5 Million Book Mark

From the Carnegie Mellon newsletter...

Online "Universal Library" Gives Readers Access to 1.5 Million Books: International Project Makes Complete Texts Available Through Single Web Portal

PITTSBURGH: The Million Book Project, an international venture led by Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, Zhejiang University in China, the Indian Institute of Science in India and the Library at Alexandria in Egypt, has completed the digitization of more than 1.5 million books, which are now available online. For the first time since the project was initiated in 2002, all of the books ... are available through a single Web portal of the Universal Library (, said Gloriana St. Clair, Carnegie Mellon's dean of libraries.

"Anyone who can get on the Internet now has access to a collection of books the size of a large university library," said Raj Reddy, professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon. "This project brings us closer to the ideal of the Universal Library: making all published works available to anyone, anytime, in any language. The economic barriers to the distribution of knowledge are falling," said Reddy, who has spearheaded the Million Book Project.

Though Google, Microsoft and the Internet Archive all have launched major book digitization projects, the Million Book Project represents the world's largest, university-based digital library of freely accessible books. At least half of its books are out of copyright, or were digitized with the permission of the copyright holders, so the complete texts are or eventually will be available free.

The collection includes a large number of rare and orphan books. More than 20 languages are represented among the 1.5 million books, a little more than 1 percent of all of the world's books.

Many of the books, particularly those in Chinese and English, have been digitized - their text converted by optical character recognition methods into computer readable text. That allows these books to be searched and, eventually, reformatted for access by PDAs and other devices. ..
Though the long-term goal of the Universal Library is to make books, artwork and other published works available online for free, about half of the current collection remains under copyright. Until the permission of the copyright holders can be documented, or copyright laws are amended, only 10 percent or less of those books can be accessed at no cost.

The project has surpassed one million books, but the participants are looking to expand to all countries and eventually every language...

For a full list of partners in the Million Book Project, see the "people" menu at

Read the full news release...
Access the Universal Library...

(With thanks to Karen Wei for informing us of this news)

Posted by Katie Newman at 9:48 AM

November 19, 2007

Americans Are Reading Less

The National Endowment for the Arts today released an interesting and disturbing report of American reading today. Gathering and collating available data, it reports that the data are simple, consistent, and alarming. Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress seems to stop as children enter their teens. There is a general decline in reading among teenagers and adults and both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates.

The report reaches three conclusions:
* Americans are spending less time reading.
* Reading comprehension skills are eroding
* These declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications.

These conclusions are, as the report notes, "unsettling." Clearly, more research is needed to explore factors that might contribute to this trend and to weigh the relative effectiveness and costs and benefits of programs to foster lifelong reading and skills development.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:13 AM

November 15, 2007

Scholarly Societies with Open Access Journals

Scholars are often concerned that if their society journal becomes "open access", subscription revenues to their society will dry up. Many learned societies are very interested in offering their articles to the widest possible audience, which OA offers, but are concerned about the sustainability of business models that provide for open access.

Caroline Sutton and Peter Suber have recently begun a two-phase project to look at OA publication initiatives from learned societies.

The goal of phase one is to make a comprehensive list of scholarly societies worldwide that support gold OA for their own journals - this is often referred to as the author-pays model. In the preliminary spreadsheet, they've divided the journals into those that are fully open access (currently 478 journals) and those that follow a hybrid model (72 journals) where some of the articles are open and others are not.

Among the information that is being gathered:
Journal title
Scholarly Society name
Geographic location
Field (STM, HUM, ARTS, SS, Multi)
Print edition
Submission fee
Publication / Page charge
ISI Impact Factor
Where indexed
Date OA starts

Once they have secured funding, the authors plan to probe the societies to "learn details about their turn to OA, their business models, and the financial and academic consequences of their OA policies."

Read more about the project:

Access the most recent spreadsheet:

Posted by Katie Newman at 10:39 AM

November 13, 2007

Update: Library-led Educational Initiatives in Scholarly Communication

Last week we noted that excerpts from the ARL-sponsored SPEC Kit report #299, "Scholarly Communication Educational Initiatives" had been posted to the University of Illinois research archive, IDEALS.

The entire report has now been made freely available on the ARL (Association of Research Libraries) web site! The ARL really wants this report widely disseminated, so are making the entire report freely available. Find it at:

The difference between the full report and what I was able to post is that I only posted the part of the report that I wrote together with my co-authors, Deb Blecic (UIC) and Kim Armstrong (formerly UIS, now CIC). That is, I posted the Executive Summary, the Survey Instrument and Results, and Selected Articles and Web Resources). In addition to these, the full report includes more than 100 pages of representative documents submitted by the seventy or so ARL member libraries that participated in the survey -- documents such as examples of Committee Charges/Proposals for Scholarly Communication (SC) initiatives; SC position descriptions; SC web sites; Copyright web sites; SC blogs; Newsletters; and, Presentation descriptions, handouts, and slides.

The record for the excerpt of the report in IDEALS will shortly be amended to include a reference to the openly accessible full text version of the document at the ARL web.

Posted by Katie Newman at 10:03 AM

November 5, 2007

Library-led Educational Initiatives in Scholarly Communication

Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives, SPEC Kit 299, was recently published by the Association of Research Libraries. Authored by Katie Newman, Deborah Blecic, and Kim Armstrong, this report surveyed the ARL libraries concerning their activities in getting the word out to their students and researchers about their scholarly communication options. What worked? What didn't? What's the best way to reach the researchers?

Since the author-agreement for the report allowed the authors to deposit the report in an institutional repository, the following portions of the report are available at the University of Illinois repository, IDEALS at the durable URL,

The openly accessible portion of the report does not include the Representative Documents that were submitted by the respondents (106 pgs) which included proposals for education initiatives, scholarly communication and copyright Web pages, job descriptions, and education materials.

To purchase this report or for a list of other SPEC Kits, see:

Posted by Katie Newman at 3:20 PM