The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Saturday, December 21, 2002

Publishers See Librarians As Foes (Again)

Librarians roast former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder for "library-bashing"

"Former congressman Pat Schroeder is hardly a Washington novice, but she took a political drubbing recently from an unlikely opponent, a bunch of librarians.

Schroeder, who now heads the Association of American Publishers, had the temerity to publicly criticize libraries for their stance on copyright laws and for distributing free copies of electronic books and articles. Her spokesman made matters worse by complaining about the libraries’ 'radical factions.'

Librarians pounced.

They roasted Schroeder for 'library-bashing.' Confronting her at public appearances, they demanded an apology. They wrote to lawmakers as a bloc to complain.

Eventually, Schroeder raised a white flag and backed away from her comments.

The lesson? Don’t mess with librarians these days.

Analysts expected them to quietly fade away with the advent of the Internet, but libraries — and librarians — are enjoying a higher profile than ever before. They’ve mobilized in Washington, where they’ve beefed up their lobbying presence and inserted themselves into far more controversial subjects than their usual bread-andbutter causes like literacy....

Lobbying expenditures for the association and other library groups now rank among the highest for nonprofits. Spending doubled to about $750,000 in 2000 from $360,000 in 1997, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That amounted to more than public broadcasters, the Boy Scouts of America and the Red Cross combined spent." [NWANews.com, via Utah and National Public Library News]

Here's the key part, though (emphasis is mine):

"Libraries spend about $2 billion a year on books and $1 billion more on electronic databases, the American Library Association estimates.

But they fear that the growing use of antipiracy technology and copyright controls will prevent them from fulfilling their traditional services of lending books, making backup copies and helping patrons with free research. For example, many libraries switch to electronic databases instead of subscribing to magazines and scholarly journals. But librarians insist they need to have the right to copy materials as a backup and to share materials with other libraries.

Otherwise, if a library can no longer afford to pay for electronic access, it loses not only future issues but also access to the archives.

Publishers and media companies, on the other hand, worry that in a digital world, libraries will become an electronic backdoor through which books, movies and music can pass freely.

When a library lent a book to a patron in the past, few people worried that it would interfere with sales. But if libraries can lend digital copies of materials, publishers fear that widespread pirating may result and sales could slump. 'Look at what happened with music,' said Schroeder, the former congressman. 'If it gets out for free, how are we going to pay the authors?' "

This is why we need to fight for fair use and right of first sale rights for libraries in the digital world. Publishers would love nothing more than to lock us out from digital content and sell directly to individuals only (never mind the fact that there are millions of people that can't afford that digital content or have no way to access it outside of a library).

I wonder how they're explaining the current decline in print bestseller numbers? Probably us pirates again.

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Return of LibraryLookup Bookmarklet

Jon Udell is still evolving his Librarylookup Bookmarklet:

"Thanks to Andrew Mutch, the LibraryLookup project has added support for a fourth vendor of library software, Sirsi/DRA. The Google technique for service discovery turned up about fifty of these systems. But when Martha Walters showed me the master list of vendors, I remembered Will Cox's number -- 117,418 libraries in the U.S. alone.

Googling remains a useful way to discover services, but it only finds a fraction of four supported systems, and there are many still unsupported. So here's a complementary approach: Build your own bookmarklet.

The idea here is twofold. First, if your library uses one of the supported systems, but isn't listed, you can just generate the bookmarklet you'll need. Second, it provides a framework that can easily include more systems, as people discover and report the URL patterns that can drive them."

This is even better since it allows for unlimited expansion of the service by the users themselves, something Jon's also notes elsewhere within a discussion about meaningful URLs:

"I've had a bunch of emails in the last few days from people saying things like "Of course, I know nothing about programming, but I twiddled the URL and it worked!"

Bing!"

So continued thanks to Jon and kudos to Andrew!

On a side note, I wanted to theorize publicly why Innovative took down its list of customers after Jon posted bookmarklets based on it. The outside world probably doesn't realize that most library catalog vendors charge libraries by the "port" (connection). Until earlier this year, our SWAN catalog was limited to first 10 and then 20 simultaneous web users because we had to pay per user. Luckily, we got money this year to purchase the unlimited user license, which as you might imagine, is much more expensive. Innovative probably realized that these bookmarklets were going to increase usage of customers' web-based ports, so they pulled the list. As Jon says, this is one of the "unintended consequences of publicizing what was (though they never thought of it as such) a directory of Web services?"

Switching gears, Art Rhyno couldn't resist working on the idea of a SWAN toolbar so he created a SWAN keyword search for Dave's Quick Search Deskbar. He sent some sample code that I had working until I messed with it and tried to duplicate similar searches for title, author, subject, and ISBN searches. I'll play with it some more next week and see if I can get it working (for some reason I couldn't get the DQSB Search Wizard to work on my PC), but this could show great promise, too. Art proposes adding even more value to this:

"It would also be neat to add a link for an InterLibrary Loan form if the item isn't available at the local library, the link could be constructed to pass some of the bibliographic details to the ILL form, and the servlet, for that matter, could use Z39.50 and other protocols to determine where the item is available."

You can tell he is a "tinkerer" because he has also updated his ISBN Bookmarklet Helper so that it "takes advantage of iframes to show the webcat display and also puts a true link in the page instead of the horrible hack I originally used."

Keep on trucking, Art!

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Disruptive Technologies For Next 5 Years

"America's Network magazine, the publication serving to telecom industry, takes a look at the disruptive technologies over the next five years. Disruptive, naturally, for telecom industry. Virtual keyboards, DWDM, broadband connections using powerlines, wearable computers, free-space optics, low-power devices, UltraWideBand, voice over 802.11b and numerous others are discussed, as well as their potential for development over the next five years." [Slashdot]

My whole blog is about how these technologies will be disruptive for libraries and how we need to start preparing and adapting now.

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Wrapping Utah in RSS

Wow - Utah must be the most RSS-ified state in the Union. Check out all of the following feeds they make available to their agencies and citizens (as noted at NewsIsFree):

  • Utah and National Public Library News.
    "A collection of Utah and National public library news articles, updated dailly."
     
  • Ferret Newsletter
    "Web sites of interest to Utah State Agencies. Web sites are chosen for their information on Internet/Technology, Business/Employment, Education, Government, Legal, Health/Science and other topics."
     
  • The Best Information on the Net
    "These are the Internet training and workshops provided by the Utah State Library Division for Utah librarians and state agency information professionals. Registration works best using either Internet Explorer or Netscape 6+."
     
  • Training for Utah State Agency Web Content Providers
    "The Utah Government Information Locator Service (gilsUtah!) offers agency and government employees free training in Internet searching; metatagging; and best practices in Web design..."
     
  • Utah Government Information
    "Popular and Newsworthy information from and about Utah government sources."

I've noted their RSS Tutorial in the past, but it's exciting to see them walking the walk and implementing RSS so widely. In fact, I haven't been back to their tutorial in a while, and I'm pleased to see that they've expanded it to showcase a range of working examples of RSS feeds in action to drive the point home. They're also keeping it current (as evidenced by the inclusion of Technorati and Popdex), and I even found a new service that I haven't seen before - Morton Frederickson's Syndication Subscription Service. I like Morton's "subscribe" buttons more than the ubiquitous white-on-orange XML buttons because they actually carry some meaning for laypersons. This has easily become the single most valuable RSS resource page for tracking RSS, and I will definitely be checking back with it more often, as well as highlighting it in all of my presentations.

Naturally I am most stoked by the library news feed (major fabu-ness), but check out the fantastic training provided by the Utah State Library. Workshops include the aforementioned Publish & Syndicate Your News to the Web, Best Practices for Search Engine Optimization, Make Your Sites Accessible and Section 508 Compliant, Find Government Information Resources, Metatagging and Metabrowser (the software they're using for their GILS project), Searching RSS Channels for News, and even just general internet training. Heck, I wish *I* could attend some of these!

Utah will surely miss Phil Windley, as illustrated by the following statement in the Publish & Subscribe workshop description:

"The emphasis will be the practical application of RSS XML/RDF metadata endorsed by the state CIO for dynamic content publishing."

Utah's govtech people seem to be working much more closely with the Utah State Library than Illinois' govtech people are with the Illinois State Library. Even though they do a fantastic job here, the folks at the ISL are under-funded, overwhelmed, creative, innovative, and under-appreciated. Utah is implementing much of what I've been advocating for in Illinois, so at least I have a proof-of-concept to actually show others in Illinois now. Bravo to them!

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