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May 29, 2004


I have commenced. Or matriculated. Or some such. Woo hoo!

As such, I am at play for a bit. Have a wonderful weekend ...

May 27, 2004

Assorted news news

The first item, which I've been holding onto forever for some reason, is thanks to Laura Soto-Barra on NEWSLIB-L:

Nicholson Baker donates newspaper collection to Duke University Libraries

DURHAM, N.C. -- A 5,000-volume collection containing many rare and historically important 19th and 20th century American newspapers has been donated to Duke University Libraries.

Novelist and essayist Nicholson Baker announced the transfer of the American Newspaper Repository (ANR) during a speech Thursday at Duke. Baker founded the repository in 1999 and acquired the bulk of the collection from the British Library, which like other major libraries got rid of long runs of original edition newspapers and now rely instead on microfilm editions.

"Many of the newspapers in the collection exist nowhere else in their original print format," Baker said. "These 19th and 20th century newspapers are magnificent landmarks of American publishing.

The second item, which deserves a deeper discussion than I can give, is from Robert Laxton via the ALAOIF list:

From Mother Jones, a database of federal contracts has been outsourced to a private contractor.

In signing the $24 million deal, the Bush Administration has privatized not only the collection and distribution of the data, but the database itself. For the first time since the system was established, the information will not be available directly to the public or subject to the Freedom of Information Act, according to federal officials. "It's a contractor owned and operated system," explains Nancy Gunsauls, a project manager at GCE. "We have the data."

With the compiled database under private control, journalists, corporate consultants, and even federal agencies will be barred from independently searching copies of it. Instead, GCE has pledged only to produce a set of public reports required by the government, and to provide limited access to the entire database for a yet-to-be-determined fee.

"It seems that something quite inappropriate has been done here," says Angela Styles, who served until last year as President Bush's chief procurement official, noting that Congress requires the government to compile and share this information. "They have ceded their responsibility."


Without direct access to the raw data, groups like Investigative Reporters and Editors, a popular source of government databases for reporters, may no longer be able to offer the information to its members. "I'm a little bit concerned about the next go-round, and whether we are going to be gouged in terms of cost," says Jeff Porter, the database editor at IRE. Aron Pilhofer, who manages databases at the Center for Public Integrity, said he was withholding judgment on the new system until he found out the price for non-profits and journalists. "If they plan to charge $35,000 for what we used to pay $500 for, they are in for a lawsuit," he said.

When contacted by a Mother Jones reporter seeking a copy of the data, a GCE representative suggested a one-on-one meeting at the company's offices in Reston, Virginia. "We like to meet with folks and find out how they are using the data to provide a real-time access to the database," Gunsauls explained. She declined to discuss costs over the phone. The first available date she had for an in-person meeting, she said, was two weeks away.

May 26, 2004

SJSU Sliswiki

Hey! John Fink has set up a Wiki for SLIS at SJSU:

I am in the initial states of setting up a SLIS Wiki. A Wiki (see
) is basically a series of webpages editable by absolutely anyone with a web browser with no special software needed. Wikis have been used successfully on several websites, including the Wikipedia, which if you haven't checked it out yet you really should. Think of it as an collectively-developed FAQ that somehow works despite the apparent anarchy of the situation.

I set this up because I have informally been involved in the past with advising prospective students about library school issues. Hopefully it will become a useful tool for prospective, new and established students.

It can be found at http://sliswiki.primate.net. Note: I just set it up about an hour ago, so forgive the dust.


May 25, 2004


My apologies for the lack of fresh content. Just kinda busy right now with training people at work, prepping for graduation and getting ready for my trip. You may not see much beyond basic links until I'm on the East Coast.

Oh, a bit of housekeeping: the blog is still being hosted on a homegrown server, but I went out and got a domain: www.madlibrarian.net

Take care ....

May 19, 2004

Donna Wentworth of Copyfight expressed

Donna Wentworth of Copyfight expressed the following as a part of her wrap-up of the ILAW 2004 conference:

Speaking of working to balance the debate, I want to thank ILAW attendee/NPR Deputy General Counsel Denise Leary for echoing/amplifying my call on Friday for real-world stories that reveal what the average guy on the street is losing because of the digital copyright crackdown. Jim Flowers told a personal story I'd like to hear in greater detail, about arguing successfully against an incredibly restrictive form of Internet filtering in schools by putting it in the plainest of terms -- something like, "Your children can't do research in school -- they're restricted to only 200 websites, and that's why this policy should be rejected." If you've got just such a simple-as-Valenti story about how today's copyright is frustrating your teaching/learning/creativity/ability to speak about an important issue online, do drop a comment below or send me an email to let me know.

To which I would add: Libraries have these stories. Library workers have these stories. These stories need to be shared, not only within the profession, but outside of it. Not everyone will be/needs to be on the same page, and there's no magic bullet to take care of everyone's issues. But we need to share our stories.

May 18, 2004

More on Stanford and the "Big Deal"

The local alumni rag has an article on Stanford University's response to the Serials crisis. It's chock full of details, anecdotal and otherwise:

At a time when their budget is being reduced by two or three percent each year, and the cost of many journals is rising by 10 percent annually, University librarians are trying to weed out titles that get little use. Last year, the science and technology libraries cancelled 489 titles for a savings of $504,000; cancellations over the previous three years netted $854,000 in savings. �Stanford has a very lean list of serial subscriptions, and every cancellation now is painful,� says University librarian Michael Keller.

Given Elsevier�s prominence in the sciences, Stanford continues to subscribe to 400 of the 1,700 journals the company publishes, at a cost of about $1.2 million per year. The periodicals account for less than 2 percent of the libraries� 28,000 subscriptions, but represent roughly 20 percent of the annual journal budget of about $6 million.

The article doesn't explicitly say, but I believe that the figures are only for what's known here as SUL: -- not any of the grad school/coordinate libraries (business, law and medicine) or the Hoover Institute library.

May 17, 2004

King Library & weblogs

The Distance Learning Librarian for SJSU is exploring the use of weblogs for Distance Library Services at the King Library. Currently, the powers-that-are are looking for a student familiar with weblogs (from the aggregating and authorship aspects) as an intern to delve into this:

This practicum will explore the utility of weblog platforms for communicating with distance students about library services. Activities include:

literature review of the use of weblogs in libraries and in distance
interviewing of librarians who have published weblogs
development and testing of one or more weblogs
preliminary evaluation

How cool is that? Maybe by the time I get back from Atlanta, my alma mater's library will have its own blog up and running.

May 13, 2004

Search engines and the courts

Declan McCullagh of CNET News writes about the use of search engines in judicial research and how results has affected actual cases.

A couple of excerpts:

To be sure, Google has no monopoly in the legal system. Yahoo's search engine popped up in the landmark Napster copyright case four years ago, and Oregon police tried to track a criminal defendant accused of firearm violations through Yahoo searches. When AltaVista was in its heyday, it also was mentioned in a handful of cases.

But in the last few years, Google appears to have become the courts' favorite search engine. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company--which announced its plans for an initial public offering last month--accounts for 41 percent of U.S. search referrals, according to statistics compiled by research company WebSideStory.


Rules governing out-of-court research are ambiguous about the use of search engines and, in the United States, tend to vary by state. In general, though, appeals courts have leeway in the sources they use. "Often appellate arguments require going outside the record of a particular case, because a judge or a panel must weigh the ramifications. What does this mean down the road?" said Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOC). "Tradition dictates that anything is fair game in terms of the research a judge or a judge's staff can do online."

Well. I think we need to send Gary Price in to teach them good search and evaluation skills (because Google is so NOT LexisNexis or WestLaw) and emphasize that there's more out there than Google. Oh wait, he already knows. Go get 'em, Gary!

May 12, 2004

The September Project, or variations thereof

info-commons has already pointed out this initiative, but I have a variation on it that I've been meaning to muse about aloud ...

First, The September Project:

On the weekend of September 11th, 2004, The September Project will organize multiple public spaces where citizens can participate collectively and think creatively about our country, our government, and our media, and bring forth the well-informed voice of the American citizenry.

Libraries are ideal hosts for such public and nationally-distributed events. Libraries provide all citizens open and free access to information. Almost all communities in the US have at least one library. There are over 16,000 in the US, and that's not including university, research, K-12, and church libraries. In other words, libraries constitute an already existing national infrastructure. Moreover, 96% of public libraries in the US are wired. Therefore, libraries also constitute a national and distributed media infrastructure.

Local libraries know their communities better than anyone. Based on feedback from libraries, we foresee these events being planned and organized by the libraries in support of their community. Some of the events might include:

talks: Invite local authors, poets, media professionals, and politicians to speak on a topic, then engage the audience to participate in further discussions.

round tables: Organize local professionals to offer various perspectives on topics like the Patriot Act, education, health care, and democracy.

performances: Coordinate local cultural and artistic organizations to perform or exhibit art.

deliberations: Conduct group discussions around questions regarding what it means to be an American? What works in America? What needs to be improved?

readings: Choose a shared text. For example: The Bill of Rights for adults and another book for young children. The adults could discuss the text in a book club format; the children's book could be read aloud by a local firefighter and then discussed.

This sounds like a very worthwhile project and I hope that a lot of libraries participate in this.

My twist on this would be slightly different, for a slightly different audience. What about a special 9/11-inspired teach-in at various library schools? Students can either go to all of their regular courses and those courses would have a special one-time curriculum, or they could all meet together in a joint forum to discuss the practical, technical and philosophical implications of that past event or any future catastrophic event. It can be broken down by subject area:

  • Library administration and management: basic disaster/crisis planning; does the library stay open and for how long; how to handle staff concerns/morale
  • Reference: how to gather and disseminate emergency information; how to deal with problematic behaviour by patrons in crisis conditions; preventing information overload; discerning good information from speculation/rumour
  • Collection management: how to respond quickly to demands for new/more materials in unfamiliar subject areas
  • Intellectual freedom: balancing safety/security concerns with privacy and confidentiality concerns; reporting potential/actual suspects; access to sensitive materials
  • Archive/records management: again, basic disaster planning; back-up systems and off-site storage; post-crisis access, inventory, restoration

And so forth. It's not that I wouldn't want to participate in the larger discussions anticipated by the September Project group, but I think this would be a great opportunity to 1) revisit the actions of various libraries on September 11, 2001 and evaluate what was/wasn't/should have been done, 2) tie some more abstract issues that may be short shrift to more concrete or more popular ones, and 3) really think about how supposedly standard practices and core values of librarianship are applied (or not) and how they will be (or not) in crisis situations, regardless of severity and scope.

Just a thought.

Thanks to Peter Levine for the initial heads-up.

May 10, 2004

Homeland security and government websites


The RAND Corporation, a research and policy institute/thinktank, has issued a report called "Mapping the Risks: Assessing the Homeland Security Implications of Publicly Available Geospatial Information". Part of the report deals with the removal of information from government websites following the 9/11 attacks. If you're not inclined to read the whole thing, there's also a research brief entitled, "America's Publicly Available Geospatial Information: Does It Pose a Homeland Security Risk?".

According to the Associated Press article (LA Times version, registration required here; Yahoo! version here) on the research study, RAND researchers found that from over 600 federal websites featuring geospatial data, only 4 sites they believed to have such sensitive, unique information that could be put to harmful use by potential terrorists and as such warranted reclassification and removal from the Open Web. Unique is apparently an important qualifier: the study reports that in order to launch an effective attack, terrorists would need to more detailed, more current information than what is/was present on most of the government websites they evaluated, and even such information, if removed from .gov sites, is still accessible through other legal means.

The study also focuses on sites with restricted information where the alleged slight benefit towards security is far outweighted by major societal costs. From the research brief:

Federal geospatial information provides many benefits to a wide range of users, including other federal agencies, state and local governments, private firms, nongovernmental organizations, and community groups. Furthermore, people who work, recreate, or live near a critical site need the geospatial information about the site to access or to avoid the location when conducting their activities. The boating, fishing, and oil and gas industries, for example, need accurate nautical charts. Emergency responders and planners need up-to-date geospatial data to provide services in the event of a natural disaster, accident, or terrorist incident. Public availability of such geospatial information is often required by federal, state, or local laws. In addition, broad access to geospatial data and information is integral to increasing productivity, reducing private- and public-sector costs of doing business, facilitating knowledge sharing, and enhancing U.S. international competitiveness.

Although the societal benefits of particular geospatial information are often difficult to quantify, decisionmakers who are responsible for determining what information should be publicly accessible should seek to identify the range of potential information users and assess the opportunity costs that limiting access would impose on users.

The brief and the report conclude with a proposal for developing an analytical framework to aid in evaluating potentially sensitive information for appropriate levels of public access.

May 07, 2004

New READ poster

Again, from the LibrarianInBlack (I may end up owing her coffee at CLA this fall for stealing so much of her material):

I know there are many people agog over the Orlando Bloom READ poster, and honestly, it's nice.

But really ... this here English writer makes me go all weak about the various joints. Especially with that goatee ... *le sigh*


From the LibrarianInBlack:

The Howard County (Md.) Public Library has migrated its public PCs from Windows to Linux. According to the article, there's no complaints thus far and they envision saving a lot of time and money ... especially since they don't have to toss their older machines in order to run more secure Windows versions.

And yeah for Dynix for making it possible by not tying their OPAC to a specific platform. I hope other major vendors are looking at this, and the possibility of doing similar things with their ILSs.


  • how much manpower was lost late last month just in tech services due to fighting a particularly virulent worm (luckily, it wasn't destructive), and
  • how when I try to run the ILS, the Z39.50 interface and my email at the same time, I usually end up having to kill the interface in the Task Manager (which takes the ILS with it) and I simply cannot run any version of Netscape along with the first two apps or it'll take Windows with them down the drain ...

I would love to move to a more stable, forgiving platform. Not to lay all of the blame with the OS, but I don't think that Windows helps with the various conflicts and probably contributes quite a bit. But that's just my $0.02.

May 05, 2004

*New* librarian writers listserv

From NMRTWriter:

A new list for "librarians who write -- check it out if you are a writer, and want a place to talk about the writing process. " -- creator/moderator Todd Grooten


For thos of you unfamiliar with NMRTWriter, it's a listserv emphasizing the concerns of new library-oriented writers, sponsored by NMRT. It's extremely low-traffic (or to be uncharitable, nearly moribund).

You can subscribe to NMRTWriter and any other ALA-sponsored listserv here.

And you can find out more about NMRT-L and NMRTWriter via the round table's webpage here.

May 03, 2004

Query re: Kahle v. Ashcroft

A new lawsuit could help library digitization projects with works published between 1964 and 1977

Libraries and archive digitization projects can benefit greatly if a newly filed lawsuit succeeds. It could release into the public domain works published between 1964 and 1977 that did not have their copyrights renewed. See Kahle v Ashcroft.

What your library or archive can do to help

Give examples of treasured collections in your library or archives that that have lots of works published during that time (Jan 1, 1964 - December 31, 1977) that you will not digitize or that you will not post online because of copyright. Focus only on works that are not likely to be commercially exploitable - not major publishing houses. Example: collection of inhouse church newsletters

Bonus Question

Also, is a crackerjack reference librarian out there who could help research this question?

How many print works were published during the timeframe 1920-1950? We have figures for works published during that time that were registered, noticed and renewed with the Copyright Office. We don't have figures as to the number of works published that were NOT. A source showing total number of works published 1920-1950 would help. Include (and separate if possible) books, newsletters, pamphlets, brochures etc.

Please send responses to Eli Edwards and indicate your name, institution, collection and how to follow up with you for more details.

Many thanks,
Eli Edwards, SLIS student -- SJSU
Mary Minow, LibraryLaw.com
(on behalf of Chris Sprigman, attorney litigating the case)

For more info on the lawsuit, see:

"New Lawsuit Spotlights Thousands of Copyright 'Orphans' That Should Be in the Public Domain" (from the Free Expression Policy Project)

"Scholar Sues for Free Online Access to Out-of-Print Books" (from the Chronicle of Higher Ed -- subscriber access only)