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April 29, 2005

Con Prep

June will be rather busy. SLA in Toronto and ALA in Chicago ... wheeeeeeeeee. splat.

I've finally finished the reservations for SLA ... and I've never paid more for a plane ticket in my admittedly-sheltered, relatively-untravelled life. OTOH, I found a hostel 10 walking minutes away (actually less, but I'm a slow walker) with wireless! I'm hostelling in Chicago as well, but I haven't made my airline reservations yet.

Also, I've stopped by Meredith's delightful and useful wiki for ALA Chicago, and plan to consult it repeatedly (and thank you for linking to my year-old post with tips for conference newbies; a more collaborative one is here).

The Toronto chapter of SLA has a very nice site linking to all sorts of info about Toronto (how to get around, where to eat, currency issues, etc.). But the wiki is pretty neat, design-wise and conceptually. I nearly hurt myself scoffing at American Libraries article on recommended restaurants in Boston for Midwinter -- it was very low-budget-unfriendly. Gathering and disseminating tips from those on various budgets, with diverse needs and desires and styles is of the good. Maybe I can get j to help me set up an SLA wiki next year.

BTW ... who's going to SLA? ALA? Bueller?

April 20, 2005

Salinas to Sacramento

In case some of you were wondering how I could ignore National Library Week, well, I was out and about.

By no means an objective piece of journalism, but maybe someone will get something out of it.

April 19, 2005

Stoppard and the London Library

The Financial Times has a story about one of my favourite playwrights and his love for the London Library, a membership institution.

This is the place Isaiah Berlin called "easily the best library in the world". Although there are remarkable libraries that would give him a good run for that "easily", it's a place its members are passionate about. For a modest annual subscription you have access to 1m or so books, multiplying every day, in a range of European languages, mostly about literature, history and the humanities. Most unusually, you can take the books home. Although there is a high and soothing leather-armchaired reading room, the sense of going off into the everyday world with your armful of wonders - or, if you live outside London or abroad, getting your wonders through the post - is unparalleled.

Even here, though, time moves on, the expectations of readers grow and books clamour to be loved and housed and ventilated. There will be a second reading room, Stoppard explains, there will be extensions below ground, computer terminals and a rationalisation of the collections. The catalogues will all be online. And there will even be a rooftop terrace ("from which you can see the London Eye," Stoppard adds, with half-murderous emphasis) - but it will all "keep the antique charm, without the formlessness".

April 14, 2005

Do Libraries Still Matter?

The writer of one of my favorite books has written an article for the Carnegie Corporation called, "Do Libraries Still Matter?" The question is answered by Daniel Akst very quickly (and positively), but it's a interesting article about modern libraries, the digital age and the legacy of Carnegie.

On the contrary, �the problem of purpose,� as library historian Patrick Williams has called it, is as old as American libraries. From the very outset, American libraries have had multiple purposes, and throughout their history have undergone multiple crises of identity. The history of American libraries, in fact, can be seen as a grand tug of war between these utopian institutions and the people they would serve, with each struggling to recreate the other in its own image. In the long run, it�s fair to say that both sides got bigger muscles from the exercise.

April 13, 2005

Snippets of culture

From the Beeb, with a caveat (via Boing Boing):

Free internet access to thousands of clips from public service radio and TV programmes is a step closer after the launch of the Creative Archive Licence.

The BBC, Channel 4, the British Film Institute (BFI) and The Open University (OU) launched the scheme on Wednesday.


It is hoped the Creative Archive Licence will give media users legal access to material which they can use to express their creativity and share their knowledge.

It will allow people to download and use footage and audio for non-commercial purposes, with each user agreeing to abide by the licence conditions before gaining access to any of the available material.

The archive was set up after the BBC pledged to "help establish a common resource which will extend the public's access while protecting the commercial rights of intellectual property owners".

The Creative Archive Licence is inspired by the Creative Commons system - a flexible copyright arrangement pioneered in the US to stimulate creativity.

More about the launch of the Creative Archive License can be found in this story from the Guardian Unlimited. The Creative Archive License site is here. And according to Rule #5 of the license:

5. UK The Creative Archive content is made available to broadband users within the UK for use [primarily] within the UK.

This is happiness making on general principles, even if the non-UK world is on the outside looking in for now. According to the FAQ, there's no DRM attached to the files, but something called "GEOIP filtering" will only allow UK-based IP addresses to access the BBC site; hopefully, it's a temporary thing while the project is still in pilot mode (for the next 18 months).

There's even a shout-out to peer-to-peer technology in the FAQ:

I heard that Creative Archive will be using P2P technology. Isn't that illegal?

Peer to Peer (P2P) distribution technologies are certainly one of the technologies that will make it possible for large files to be sustainably distributed online and therefore of great interest to the Creative Archive. The good news is that the technology is not illegal. When used for the distribution of legally licensed material, it provides an efficient and cost effective means of sharing and distributing content on the internet.

And just maybe, one day, I can own the Parrot Sketch.

April 07, 2005

Rally Salinas success

Woo hoo! The Salinas libraries have been saved! [LA Times article; registration or bugmenot required]

In a really limited fashion. For a limited time. Nonetheless, it's reason to kick up the sensibly-shod heels ...

Fundraisers came up with $500,000 after local government officials said they could no longer afford to pay for the facilities. The donations will keep three libraries in the financially strapped community open on a limited basis through December.

"The goal has been reached," Jan Neal, administrator of the library system, said today. "What it means is 26 hours of service per week."

If any of you wondered about the physical rally that took place at one of the Salinas libraries, Lincoln Cushing has a write-up about it. On a personal note, I stayed up and read from America, the textbook, around 1:15 a.m. and actually managed to get laughs from a weary, cold few. I like that think that my delivery was responsible for at least 2% of the overall humour.

National Digital Newspaper Program


The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced that six institutions have received more than $1.9 million in grants in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) http://www.neh.fed.us/projects/ndnp.html, a new, long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers now in the public domain. Two-year projects in California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah and Virginia each will digitize 100,000 or more pages of each state's most historically significant newspapers published between 1900 and 1910. When completed, digitized newspapers will be made available through the Library's Web site.


The following six institutions received the first NDNP grants to digitize papers in their respective states from the first decade of the 20th century:

�University of California, Riverside, $400,000;
�University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville, $320, 959;
�University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, $310,000;
�New York Public Library, New York City, $351,500;
�University of Utah, Salt Lake City, $352,693; and
�Library of Virginia, Richmond, $201,226.

It's like someone has gotten chocolate in my peanut butter or vice versa ... I look forward to reading more about the project.

April 01, 2005

No April Fool's joke ...

I kid you not, Walt Crawford has a blog.

April 1 LJ

All of the news that's fit (or unfit) to print ...

Someone should take a screenshot before the day is out.