The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Preserving Our Digital Past And Future

Copyright and Licensing for Digital Preservation

"Digital media have a relatively short life expectancy. Preserving digital information for the long term presents many problems, the biggest of which arguably come from changes in coding, formats, software, operating systems and hardware that can render digital material unreadable....

Digital information may be surrounded by technology designed to protect it from unauthorised copying and redistribution, which may also hinder preservation.

For traditional media, libraries acquire and physically own a discrete information object. In the digital world, the model is paying for access to information held remotely. If libraries do not own digital material, they cannot preserve it. Publishers may or may not have a commitment to preserving their own information, depending to an extent on what type of publisher it is and what its mission is....

It is not clear whether copyright legislation and licensed access to digital content threaten the ability of libraries to provide long-term access to that content. The aim of the Copyright and Licensing for Digital Preservation Project, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, is to investigate these issues and to suggest ways in which any problems can be overcome. The research is focusing on the UK, but the findings are likely to be of wider interest, and the project is collecting information on the situation in other countries." [Update, via beSpacific]

A traditional function of libraries that we'll lose if we don't start addressing these issues with publishers. Of course, cutting funding for libraries doesn't help. I mean, truly - who do you think is going to do all of these things like bridge the digital divide, teach information literacy, and preserve our culture?

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Music Highs

Eric Maynard is hooked on Rhapsody, too. We're both echoing the thoughts of Tim Jarrett:

iTunes Music Store: Unanticipated Side Effect

"So that unanticipated side effect? All of a sudden, after Apple’s breakthrough, buying music on line seems like the most natural thing in the world—regardless of who’s selling. I wouldn’t be surprised if eMusic and other online stores get a big lift over the next few months." [via Will Cox]

I'm feeling that sentiment, too - big time. As I said to Kate today, it's actually weird being legal about this now. Tim and others like eMusic, so I'm going to check them out (it's been a while since I looked at their site). If I subscribe, that would make three legitimate music services in one month!

On a side note, I'm fascinated that this surge of supply to meet the pent-up demand for quality, online music downloads is resulting in lists of "finds." By that, I mean posts by people who can't believe they found a place to legally download their favorite bands' music. We're posting lists that express our disbelief, and those posts are what I'd like to aggregate. Tim does it in the above-referenced post, I did it yesterday. I know I've seen others, although now I can't find them. I'd like to try to track this as a phenomenon, so if you know of any, leave a comment!

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Library Wi-Fi With A Caveat

Boston Library System Provides Wi-Fi All Over

"Looking for wireless access in Boston? Arguably the most ubiquitous coverage doesn't come from any coffee or hotel chains, but in the 29 branch buildings of the Boston Public Library (BPL). And access is free. All you need is a library card....

The BPL has made sure all the public areas in its branches, from downtown to Allston to South Boston, are setup with wireless access points, and a number of staff areas are being done over now to get Wi-Fi. Patrons have to provide their own client systems and NICs, and must set their NIC card to use DHCP to get an IP address from the access points. Plus, they have to manually enter an SSID, which is changed every few days. Directions are found on the BPL Web Site.

The hardest part of the $195,000 deployment (most of which was paid for through the government eRate program) wasn't dealing with running cable through the old buildings such as the main branch in Copley Square (built in 1895). The hard part was protecting kids who might use the Wi-Fi connections.

'We have a mandate from the city and the federal government to filter pornography for kids under 18,' says Coulter. 'We've been using SurfControl as a proxy [on wired access systems], but we had to figure a way so that the vast majority of places where you could get straight connections, kids could also get on.' Access points that are used by the kids broadcast the SSID, however their browsers must be set up with proxy server settings." [802.11 Planet, thanks Rich!]

This is the first time I've heard of a library filtering its Wi-Fi access. Interesting, although I question the claim that there is a "mandate" from the federal government to filter. I guess that means if Jon or Dave connect in the wrong part of the BPL's Wi-Fi network, they'll encounter some issues they didn't think affected them.

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Why You Should Care About The Public Domain

Joseph Hall comments on bIPlog's post Irrelevance vs. Visability of the Public Domain:

"I just convinced my parents that they should care about the public domain. How? One sentence: 'Did you know that the works of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Gershwin and Copland were taken out of the public domain in 1994 by a law called URAA? This means that many orchestral schools will not be able to teach or perform these works without paying the estates of said composers. This also means that a generation of musicians will largely skip these compositions...' "

Technically it's more than one sentence, but this is one of the best illustrations I've seen, and I will definitely be quoting it in my presentations.

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Two More Leading Indicators That The DVD Revolution Is Almost Complete

"Despite the cultish competition, though, Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, worked a small miracle, earning nearly as much in DVD sales as its entire theatrical gross. Sadly, Spike Lee's 25th Hour can't make the same claim; though the Edward Nortin going-to-the-jailhouse drama did well on DVD, it didn't even crack the top 10 VHS rentals." [Entertainment Weekly, 6/13/2003, p.81]

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And All 200 Of Them Have My Email Address

Spam Wars

"Technology alone will never win the war. Ninety percent of spam is sent by fewer than 200 people, according to Mozena of CAUCE, the anti-spam coalition. That represents an astounding degree of concentration, but virtually everyone who fights spam for a living agrees it is roughly correct." [Technology Review, via JD on MX]

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Charge That Bull!

Bullfighter - Stripping The Bull Out Of Business

"Bullfighter is software that runs in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, within Microsoft Office 2000 or XP. It works a lot like the spelling and grammar checker in those applications, but focuses on jargon and readability. Download it for free, or order a CD-ROM/book package. Then install it." [WebWord]

We should have installed this on everyone's PC at SLS during the big standardization project! The site seems to be down right now, but I'll try again tomorrow. :-)

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Let Steven Show You How To Keep Current

It's official - Steven Cohen's book Keeping Current: Advanced Internet Strategies to Meet Librarian and Patron Needs is listed as "forthcoming" on the ALA Editions site!

"Many librarians are suffering from information overload. Although they realize that it's their responsibility to keep up with information about the profession and the subjects their patrons are interested in, they are so overwhelmed by the glut of information available in today's electronic media that they don't know where to start. This book provides many practical strategies to target the information that librarians most need and arrange to have it delivered to their in-box, rather than having to go out onto the Internet to search for it on a daily basis. The use of advanced search engine features, web site monitoring software, weblogs and RSS feeds will allow librarians to keep up with a vast amount of important information while saving them precious time."

Chapter four is devoted to blogs and chapter five is devoted to RSS. Since it's Steven's work, I feel confident recommending it sight unseen, and my guess is that non-librarians would benefit from reading it, too. Watch for it in October!

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