October 2008

Rare Book Thieves Get Off Easy

A federal judge declined Thursday to give additional prison time to four men serving 87-month sentences for stealing rare books and assaulting a librarian with a taser.

In February, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Charles Allen, Eric Borsuk, Warren Lipka and Spencer Reinhard — all from Lexington (KY) — should have received more time than the 7 years, 3 months they were given after they pleaded guilty to the high-profile theft from Transylvania University in April 2005.

Here’s the LISNews original report from 2005 (how do you like them archives??), and here’s more on the recent ruling on time served from Bluegrass Beat.

On the Google Book Search agreement


The biggest loser in this whole battle is the Orphan Works legislation. If anyone needed evidence to demonstrate that it is WAY TOO EARLY for Congress to be passing massive new bureaucratic overlays to copyright to deal with the important problem of “orphan works,” this is the evidence. Let’s let this private alternative develop, while Congress puts away its billion-factor balancing tests for regulating access to “orphan works.”

While You’re Waiting to Vote, Take a Book

People are arriving at libraries around the country and waiting in line to vote. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to let them know the many benefits of library usage?

From Deseret News, early voting headaches have caused long lines for some voters and even forced others to make multiple attempts to realize the promised convenience. In Davis County (UT), Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings reported that more than 14 percent of active registered voters have voted early so far. That percentage was climbing Wednesday as voters packed into the Davis County Library branch in Layton more than an hour before polls opened at 3 p.m.

And from the Miami Herald, a voter in Fort Lauderdale comments after driving by the African-American Research Library and knew she had to stop. ”The line looked short, so I jumped in,” said a Margate resident.

At the West Kendall Regional Library, voters earlier in the week spent several hours in line. ”If it would have happened just a teeny bit earlier, it would have been better for all of us,” said Anthony Guevary, a poll deputy at the West Kendall Regional Library. “I’m just glad the governor did it. It will relieve pressure on the 4th.“

Is voting happening @ your library?

Google moves towards single sign-on with OpenID

Currently users are required to create individual passwords for many websites they visit, but users would prefer to avoid this step so they could visits websites more easily. Similarly, many websites on the Internet have asked for a way to enable users to log into their sites without forcing them to create another password. If users could log into sites without needing another password, it would allow websites to provide a more personalized experience to their users.

Full article here.

Digital Librarian Criticizes Google’s Settlement with Booksellers

Chris O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News writes:

“When I heard Google had settled its feud with book publishers, I knew exactly whom I wanted to call first: Brewster Kahle, the digital librarian who is the founder of the Internet Archive.

I first talked to Kahle back in 2004, around the time Google launched its Book Search. The program riled publishers, who felt it amounted to a massive copyright violation, triggering the class-action suit. Kahle, who was also critical of the plan, helped put together the Open Content Alliance, a competing venture of libraries and tech companies such as Yahoo that sought to scan millions of books and make them available for free.

Google’s plan was to build a new kind of bookstore. Kahle and the alliance want to build a new kind of library. By coincidence, the 135 members of the Open Content Alliance were gathered in San Francisco on Tuesday for a two-day conference when news of the Google settlement came down. I wondered whether the news had changed Kahle’s view of Google’s program.”

Continued here.

Mourning Old Media’s Decline

The print media do not have an audience problem, but a consumer problem. The Christian Science Monitor will end its daily print paper and publish a magazine.

From article: The auto industry and the print industry have essentially the same problem,” said Clay Shirky, the author of “Here Comes Everybody.” “The older customers like the older products and the new customers like the new ones.”

Full article in the NYT.

Light Fingered Lincoln Librarian Gets the Ax

The head of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield has been fired after his second shoplifting arrest. Director Rick Beard had been on administrative leave since the arrest was made public last week.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fired Beard on Tuesday. A state spokesman says Beard was notified by phone. Beard was arrested in August and charged with stealing $40 worth of DVDs from a Springfield Target store. The 61-year-old has pleaded not guilty. Chicago Tribune.

This was the press release announcing Beard’s appointment two years ago. President Lincoln’s Bicentennial is coming up shortly; I wonder what Beard’s firing will mean for the celebration.

Update…from the AP: Jan Grimes, director of the Historic Preservation Agency, will run the Lincoln museum and library temporarily. Robert Coomer, a former director of Historic Preservation, will replace Beard at the foundation.

Day in the Life of a Library of Congress Chemist

DC-ist Blog has the ‘photo of the day’ from ‘volcanpkw’

…who has pretty much the coolest job ever; she’s a Research Chemist with the LoC and has been working with daguerreotypes for the past few days. She told us she’s trying to figure out:

* What did 19th century photographers use as plate bases for their daugerreotypes?
* Can we tell what the tarnish is on his plates?
* Can we treat the tarnish without destorying the image?
* Do multiple sensitizations change particle size/distribution?
* How can we clean off organics (like bugs) without destroying the image?
* Can we use hyperspectral imaging to re-create what an almost-gone image once looked like by using UV and infrared light?

Google Settles Suit Over Book-Scanning Project

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have settled a class-action lawsuit over Google’s book-scanning project.

The company and the book groups said Tuesday that Google would pay $125 million and legal fees to resolve claims by authors and publishers.
Full story here.

Another commentator (Tony Bandy) offered this from the Google site and specifically his favorite quote:

  • “…We’ll also be offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access the full text of millions of out-of-print books for free….”