Academic Libraries

Digital Content Vendors and Academic Libraries

Despite its lazy title, this article (from the latest issue of University Business) appears to be an intelligent survey of the companies seeking to sell digital content to academic libraries:

If there is one institution on a college campus that has never faced outside competition, it is the library. Cafeterias and snack bars lose customers to local pizza joints, and the bookstore continually fights various off-campus and online rivals. Even the classroom has commercial competitors. But the great book depository in the center of campus has always rested easy. When students needed to research and write term papers—or when faculty members planned reading lists and put books on reserve—the library was the only game in town. Until now. A half-dozen companies would like to undermine the library\'s monopoly. Styling themselves as digital libraries, course-pack providers, content aggregators, and research guides, they offer a variety of products aimed at students at all levels. None intend to replace the library, of course, but the firms are positioning themselves as purveyors of supplemental services of digital content that libraries do not provide.

There is also an interesting sidebar on the African Digital Library

Subduing the Paper Chase ?

Federal Computer Week reports on the National Archives\' antiquated and ineffectual National Personnel Records Center:

Requests for veterans’ records pour in to the National Personnel Records Center at a rate of 6,000 a day. But the records center, a massive warehouse in St. Louis, is ill-equipped to handle the demand. In an age when agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration can share electronic records almost instantly, the National Personnel Records Center still operates much as it did when it opened in 1955. . . On average, it takes workers at the records center 54 days to respond to written requests for records. But sometimes it takes years.

Preserving our 21st century digital heritage

This interesting feature from ABC News takes a detailed look at the issues surrounding the need to preserve the mass of information now being produced in digital form. It looks at efforts made by the Library of Congress and initiatives such as The Internet Archive to find ways of capturing this part of our cultural heritage and storing it for posterity. An excellent story with lots of useful links.

\"If somebody were to try to write a dissertation today about the Web in 1994, say, they would be hard-pressed to find the kind of archival primary materials that they\'d want.\"

What’s Important?

AbcNews is running an Interesting Story on issues facing the preservation sector.
They managed to avoid Baker in this one somehow.

\"In 20 years, we will try to find first editions of their works, and we will look for their papers on the market,\" she says. \"If they have stuff on disk, and we collect their disks, that means we have to have technology to be able to read their disks. … We\'re still buying Mark Twain letters. We haven\'t really grappled with somebody from the [19]90s yet.\"

When In-House Research Isn\'t Enough

HBSWK has a Story on corporate research and development and how much it is changing.

There\'s a new paradigm to consider that takes into account both internal and external research and development efforts to create what they call a \"company innovation system.\"

Project to digitize early English texts

A number of academic libraries, in partnership with ProQuest, are working on a fully-searchable database containing 25,000 early English texts. The full story from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
\"The unusual project -- making business partners out of parties that are sometimes at odds with each other over pricing and access issues -- could eventually be a model for future collaborations between libraries and other content companies.\"

3 Million Pounds of History

A great profile in the New York Times of the trials, travails, and impressive holdings of the Municipal Archives of the City of New York.

The collection — three million pounds of material, ranging from the original 1654 Dutch sales slip for the purchase of Coney Island, to a trove of stereoscopic Victorian pornography assembled by an antivice crusader — has weathered centuries of profound neglect. It has been appallingly lodged in a succession of makeshift spaces, including a city pier and the attic of a fire-prone pizza parlor. . .an improbable thing has happened as archivists have made these records available to scholars in recent years: New York City\'s history has been rewritten.

Prison Cuts Library Budget - Inmates Learn to Do Things the Old-Fashioned Way

Rich Tucker writes...

State corrections officials are removing typewriters and word processors from prison law libraries, making it necessary for Florida inmates without attorneys to produce their legal briefs the really old-fashioned way. [more...] from The Florida Times Union.

From Persia to Brooklyn

The New York Times review of the exhibit \"Precious Possessions: Treasures from the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary.\"

The library [houses] 375,000 volumes, including the largest collection of Hebraica and Judaica in the Western Hemisphere. . . they date from the 11th to the 20th century and come from all over the map: Persia, Italy, Egypt, Brooklyn. Almost every item has a story to tell or a name to drop. Want to see Maimonides\'s signature? Sigmund Freud\'s bookplate? A score written by Leonard Bernstein? They\'re here. And, of course, fragility is part of their allure: books and manuscripts are sensitive to light, which means they should not be on view for long.

Corporate Cash & Campus Labs

The Christian Science Monitor has a story on ever growing university-corporate partnerships. There is no doubt corporate cash is undermining the credibility of research results.

They say the long-term risk ia a loss of public confidence that could permanently undermine support for universities.

I say it\'s something far worse.

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