May 2004

Ancient halls of Alexandria found

pv_sapl writes “From this story on MSNBC, “Polish archaeologists have unearthed 13 lecture halls believed to be the first traces ever found of ancient Egypt’s University of Alexandria“. And that article points to this blog post, where Alan Boyle discusses the issues of the DMCA and the DMCA’s affect on digital archives.”


Google deluxe is now in beta.

MoreGoogle adds cool features such as site preview images, site ranking indicators, satistics and the fabulous Open-in-New-Window-button to Google. And that’s just the beginning. Check out

New York Public Library as a Movie Star

Terrence Bosky writes “From “ER’s Noah Wyle is set to star in the TNT original movie The Librarian, the network announced. Wyle will play the titular character, who is responsible for a massive repository of secret treasures hidden beneath the New York Public Library.” More here from

Rochelle adds that there are about a million stories about this week’s opening of the weather disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” all of which refer to a scene in which people burn books at the New York Public Library in order to stay warm. Here’s a choice blurb from a review in the Wichita Eagle.

Just barely, the movie does fly. Emmerich carves out moments of humor that deepen the emotions of the story, like when the New York librarians refuse to allow frigid survivors in the library to burn books for warmth, then insist only bad books can be incinerated.

I think I will go see the movie just to see what “bad” books NYPLers use to stoke the fire.

E-Rate fraud

There is an article in the NYT about a settlement with computer company NEC over E-rate fraud. E-rate is the program designed to put internet access in schools and libraries.

Another Rave for Seattle Library

teaperson writes “The Christian Science Monitor is the latest news outlet to cover the new Seattle Public Library, including the predictable irony of praise for books in Microsoft’s backyard. One nice quote:

“The thing that excites me is that the building getting all these raves is a library. It’s not a museum, not a ballpark, not an opera house,” says Deborah Jacobs, city librarian since 1997. “The statement this place makes is: Libraries and books are alive and thriving.”

Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

Stevan Harnad sent a message to SERIALST last night regarding Elsevier and open access self-archiving. The text of that message is included in the extended copy. I am surprised that Elsevier is permitting open access self-archiving. My impression of them so far is that they are completely out of touch with the needs of libraries and authors.

Stevan Harnad sent a message to SERIALST last night regarding Elsevier and open access self-archiving. The text of that message is included in the extended copy. I am surprised that Elsevier is permitting open access self-archiving. My impression of them so far is that they are completely out of touch with the needs of libraries and authors.Stevan’s message:

Elsevier has just gone from being a Romeo “Pale-Green” publisher to a full Romeo Green publisher: Authors have the publisher’s official green light to self-archive both their pre-refereeing preprints and their refereed postprints.

Elsevier has thereby demonstrated that — whatever its pricing policy may be — it is a publisher that has heeded the need and the expressed desire of the research community for Open Access (OA) and its benefits to research productivity and progress.

There will be the predictable cavils from the pedants and those who have never understood the real meaning and nature of OA: “It’s only the final refereed draft, not the publisher’s PDF,” “It does not include republishing rights,” “Elsevier is still not an OA publisher.”

I, for one, am prepared to stoutly defend Elsevier on all these counts, and to say that one could not have asked for more, and that the full benefits of OA require not one bit more — from the publisher.

For now it’s down to you, Dear Researchers! Elsevier (and History) is hereafter fully within its rights to say:

“If Open Access is truly as important to researchers as they claim it is — indeed as 30,000+ signatories to the PLoS Open Letter attested that it was — then if researchers are not now ready to *provide* that Open Access, even when given the publisher’s official green light to do so, then there is every reason to doubt that they mean (or even know) what they are saying when they clamour for Open Access.”

Elsevier publishes 1,700+ journals. That means at least 200,000 articles a year. will be carefully quantifying and tracking what proportion of those 200,000 articles is made OA by their authors through self-archiving across the next few months and years. Indeed we will be monitoring all of the over 80% of journals sampled by Romeo that are already green.

(The following Romeo summary stats are already out of date, because 1700 pale-green journals have now become bright green!
but we will soon catch up at: [which is under construction, waiting for full journal lists from each of the 93 publishers sampled so far].)

The OA ball is now clearly in the research community’s court (not the publishing community’s, not the library community’s). Let researchers and their employers and funders now all rise to the occasion by adopting and implementing institutional OA provision policies. Don’t just sign petitions for publishers to provide OA, but commit your own institution to providing it:

School Librarian finds Stun Gun, Handgun

For the second time in a month, guns have been found in Baltimore-area schools. The most recent incident involved a stun gun and handgun found by a school librarian at Washington High School. The guns belonged to a graduating senior who officials characterized as “troubled by personal issues. More here from

Switching from the Bar to the Reference Desk

Here’s a piece from New York Lawyer about lawyers who have given up practicing law to become law librarians. Many of those who make the switch are people who love the study of law but find the hectic life of a lawyer a little more than they bargained for.

“‘Your skills as a lawyer are not wasted in becoming a librarian,’ said Janice Henderson, who began as a law librarian, then earned a J.D. as a night student at Brooklyn Law School to enhance her career opportunities. ‘In fact, you’ll gain more skills. Being an attorney and being a librarian are two different sides of the same coin.'”

Publicity-Shy Librarian aka “The Poet of Dirty Words”

A revised edition of Philip Larkin’s “Collected Poems” has been released, showcasing the cantankerous, misanthropic side of the poet-librarian. Dismissed as a confessionary crank as little as a decade ago, Larkin’s life has become sort of a cottage industry and subject of intense voyeuristic interest. “By the time of his death, Larkin, a grumpy, publicity-shy librarian, had become an unlikely celebrity, a rabbity symbol for his readers’ accumulated regrets, calling his own childhood a forgotten boredom.'” More here from Slate.

Those of you who are adamantly child-free will appreciate the poem, “This Be the Verse,” the last stanza of which reads:

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can
And don’t have any kids yourself.