In this issue:
Go to Hellman • September 16, 2010
Sitting on their assets? Blogger Eric Hellman suggests that libraries form a collective to acquire "ebook assets" that would allow them "to distribute an ebook to anyone, anywhere, without charge." Although it's unclear how much money would be required to persuade publishers to loosen their stranglehold on digital copyrights, it's an interesting idea.
Gosh. An interesting idea indeed. Would a collective for e-monograph distribution rights have the potential to subvert the craziness that has accompanied e-journals licensing? I have a hard time imagining that publishers would sell such rights for anything but astronomical costs, even for books that end up being a bust, but hey—nothing ventured . . . What would this mean for bestsellers and other big income earners for which libraries couldn't match the publishers' expected income stream? Maybe ARL could take this on with university presses as an experiment, since big revenue streams are rare in that arena. And what about encouraging publishers to release their non-sellers into the public domain instead of keeping them locked up until copyright protections expire? ( Dooley)
Wordyard • September 14, 2010
Due diligence. Former Salon technology editor Scott Rosenberg offers tips on how to conduct a "sniff test" of Web-borne information. Keep these in mind for the next time you're charged with fact-checking Web-based assertions.
These tips are also handy if your domain supplies information including personal names for harvesting or syndication. Harvesting makes it easy for aggregators to represent your information in other contexts, but without a business model these sites can become well-ranked zombies. In the mean time, you should expect an e-mail or call from someone demanding that you to remove their name from the Web. If you're lucky, they will be patient as the change propagates through the harvesting network. The zombie aggregators may no longer be listening, though, so you might expect a more irate call some months later. Having these tips can be extremely helpful for tracking down the agent holding the zombies' leash. ( Young)
The Art Newspaper • September 15, 2010
"Stewardship is the new normal." Borrowing artwork, displaying it and returning it sidesteps the ethical and financial issues of ownership, says museum director Maxwell Anderson, who suggests curators concentrate on "gathering" rather than "collecting." "If we can think of art circulation via 'catch and release' as a viable alternative to hanging a trophy on a wall, the art ecosystem may come into better balance, reducing the impetus for vertiginous rental fees or inappropriate benefits to potential donors that distort the mission of museums."
Max has written a sensible and provocative thought piece that challenges his colleagues. I think his comment that we ought to turn "attention to gathering people, expertise, objects, and experiences . . . " has real applicability to the academic library. ( Michalko)
Intelligent Life • Autumn 2010
Acronymy. While adults rail against the assault on language launched by teens' rampant texting, they're hardly blameless—between the U.S. military (AWOL, SNAFU, etc.), the C-suite (ROI, TQM, etc.) and the medical establishment (AIDS, COPD, etc.), we're already drowning in alphabet soup.
RDA? FRBR? VRA? EAD? ALA? IFLA? ILS? OPAC? CMS? Who among us in the LAM can claim innocence in acronyms one-upmanship? We are champions of the TLA, and I always pity the uninitiated consultant or guest speaker who has to endure a conversation or meeting in library land without consulting a FAQ. ( Proffitt)
The Boston Globe • September 6, 2010
Just for fun. We all tend to make snap judgments based on others' reading choices—here's a breezy look at one person's way to make the time spent commuting a little more interesting.
Unfortunately, my commute involves me and Public Radio (or XM Radio, during pledge season). When I am traveling with others, it's on a plane and it's hard not to notice the almost ubiquitous Stieg Larsson Girl [fill in the blank], the rise of The Help, and the staying power of Eat, Pray, Love. I'm more likely to judge people based on what newspaper they are reading or the electronic device they are fiddling with. The iPad seems to be edging out the Kindle, and lots of people choose to spend time watching videos on mini DVD players or on even smaller handheld devices. I am aware that I'm judging the package, not what's inside. ( Proffitt)