Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Google Goes Live With Print.Google.com

Google's "library digitization" project went live in Beta on May 26, 2005. Don't fret, yet. It's not all its cracked up to be. A search of "natural law," for example, turned up thousands of hits; but no full text! A search reveals the pages where you search terms appear, but then offers information of how to buy the book, or where to find copies. It appears to not provide full text of books - yet.

This only reinforces what many pundits have been saying: Google's project provides us with a virtual search engine, not a virtual library!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

University of Iowa Exhibit on Bookbinding Is A Reminder Of The Durability Of Books

Quotes from the i-newswire (U of Iowa news service):

"Today digital storage and retrieval methods are very popular, yet most digital storage is outdated and unreadable within 25 years," says Gary Frost, University Conservator. "On the other hand, a storage technology using carbon ink and papyrus of late antiquity has proven readable for 16 centuries."

The exhibition is presented by the Friends of the UI Libraries in conjunction with the conference "The Changing Book: Transitions in Design, Production and Preservation" that will be held at the UI Libraries July 22-25, and the University of Iowa Museum of Art exhibition "Bill Anthony: Fine Book Binder," on exhibit through July 31.

Georgetown Professor Laments U of Texas Library Book Removal Plans

Professor Michael Czinkota, in a special column to the Japan Times gives pretty good, if not original, defense of books in libraries.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dutch Universities Create Free Internet Scientific Research Site

According to an article in The Register: "Scientists from all major Dutch universities officially launched a website on Tuesday where all their research material can be accessed for free. Interested parties can get hold of a total of 47,000 digital documents from 16 institutions the Digital Academic Repositories. No other nation in the world offers such easy access to its complete academic research output in digital form, the researchers claim. Obviously, commercial publishers are not amused." [Reed-Elsevier is Holland's own enormously big and profitable international science journal publisher....]

Sunday, May 15, 2005

In the World of Libraries You Don't Need to be a Nation to Create International Controversies!

According to a recent article in Cherwell Online, "France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain have asked the EU to launch its own library initiative, proposed by French President, Jacques Chirac.

"The plans come as several European countries have spoken out against Google’s digitisation plans, for fear of cultural dominance. Jean-Noel Jeanneney, President of the French National Library, published a book this weekend entitled, When Google Challenges Europe, presenting a vision of Google carrying out a hostile takeover of “the thought of the world”."

U Texas to Move 90K Books from Undergrad Lib for Info Commons

According to an article in The Ledger Online:

By mid-July, the university says, almost all of the library's 90,000 volumes will be dispersed to other university collections to clear space for a 24-hour electronic information commons, a fast-spreading phenomenon that is transforming research and study on campuses around the country.

"In this information-seeking America, I can't think of anyone who would elect to build a books-only library," said Fred Heath, vice provost of the University of Texas Libraries in Austin.

The trend is being driven, academicians and librarians say, by the dwindling need for undergraduate libraries, many of which were built when leading research libraries were reserved for graduate students and faculty. But those distinctions have largely crumbled, with research libraries throwing open their stacks, leaving undergraduate libraries as increasingly puny adjuncts with duplicate collections and shelves of light reading.

Mr. Heath said removal of the books had raised some eyebrows among the faculty and anxiety among the library staff. But he said the concerns were needless. "Books are the fundamental icon of intellectual efforts," he said, "the scholarly communication of our time."

So, Mr. Heath said, speaking of the library, "if you move it, there's a pang, a sense of loss." He added that the books were merely being moved within the university's library system, one of the nation's largest, home to some 8 million volumes and growing by 100,000 a year. Basic reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias will remain.

The move, Mr. Heath said, would free about 6,000 square feet in the four-story Flawn Academic Center, which opened in 1963.

Students at Texas, interviewed as they studied or lounged at the library tables, said that they would welcome extra computer space and that they got most of their books anyway at the far larger Perry-CastaƱeda Library. But some said they liked the popular selection at the undergraduate library and feared the loss of a familiar and congenial space.

"Well, this is a library - it's supposed to have books in it," said Jessica Zaharias, a senior in business management. "You can't really replace books. There's plenty of libraries where they have study rooms. This is a nice place for students to come to. It's central in campus."

Friday, May 06, 2005

"What me worry? My data's all been backed up!"

This headline, "Time Warner: Backup tapes with data on 600,000 employees lost" in national papers on May 2, 2005, says it all. First of all, computer data isn't all that permanent, is it? Second, it doesn't take much to affect a lot of data. One little misplaced trunk and "poof!" an entire library, gone....

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

EU to launch Digital Library

EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced that the EU will form a digital library program to "counter" Google's digital library plans. "We have to act," he said, "That's why I say yes to the initiative of the French presidet to launch a European digital library." What's every body so afraid of?