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I’m happy to report that my University has passed a Senate resolution (pdf) requiring all faculty members to deposit peer-reviewed journal articles in the University’s repository - Spectrum. Perhaps a little shameless promotion here, but the University Librarian and the Spectrum repository library committee really championned the cause of Open Access to Faculty in the last 2 years, and in the process, increased the visibility and importance of the library at Concordia. Small step for our library, big step for librarianship.
Another great article by Nate Anderson over at ars technica. He writes about an initiative by Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University to bridge the digital divide. The University is rolling out 1Gbps fibre to homes around campus. That area of Cleveland is among the poorest neighborhoods, with apparently 72% of homes without Internet. According to Case University, “[o]n a national scale, neighbors of the University have as much Internet access as Panamanians or Vietnamese.”
You can also read more about it on Case’s VP for Information Technology Services blog.
The initiative will be free to the community, as the University is using it as a research opportunity to see if large broadband can bring about new uses for the Internet, such as “public safety, more educational opportunities, and better medicine.” This initiative also fits nicely with the FCC’s new broadband plan in which Goal 4 states the following:
Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
In June, the OECD had a Ministerial Conference on the Future of the Internet Economy. They published a report which is intended to help countries shape policies concerning the Internet economy. The themes that are addressed are the following:
- Making Internet access available to everyone and everywhere.
- Promoting Internet-based innovation, competition and user choice.
- Securing critical information infrastructures and responding to new threats.
- Ensuring the protection of personal information, respect for intellectual property rights, and more generally a trusted Internet-based environment which offers protection to individuals, especially minors and other vulnerable groups.
- Promoting secure and responsible use of the Internet; and,
- Creating an environment that encourages infrastructure investment, higher levels of connectivity and innovative services and applications.
There were some positive policy suggestions that were made, such as:
- Promote a culture of openness and sharing of research data among public research communities.
- Raise awareness of the potential costs and benefits of restrictions and limitations on access to and sharing of research data from public funding.
The OECD Civil Society Forum, comprised of the OECD Civil Society Reference Group and the The Trade Union Advisory Committee, produced a paper (and their own conference) intended to bring to the attention of the OECD Ministers assembled and the OECD member countries the concerns of those not represented at the Ministerial conference.
Their paper highlights the following:
The policy goals for the Future Internet Economy should be considered within the broader framework of protection of human rights, the promotion of democratic institutions, access to information, and the provision of affordable and non-discriminatory access to advanced communication networks and services.
Their recommendations cover
- Freedom of expression
- Protection of Privacy and Transparency
- Consumer Protection
- Promotion of Access to Knowledge
- Internet Governance
- Promotion of Open Standards and Net Neutrality
- Balanced Intellectual Property Policies
- Support for Pluralistic Media
Robarts Library has always been a popular conversational piece. Whether you love it or hate it, the news of a $75 million upgrade reported in the Toronto Star will no doubt add interest to what is an already popular topic. The provincial government is providing a $15 million grant up front.
In addition to being known as ‘the dungeon’, looking like a turkey and its brutalist architecture, Robarts is a closed stacks system. When it opened in 1972, Robarts was initially planned to be closed to undergraduate students as well. Student protested successfully with petitions and a sit in to which 500 students showed up.
While there are plans to replace the concrete covering the stacks with windows that will let some light in, there’s no mention of changing the system from the closed stacks system to one with increased browsing access for the public.
Is there still an argument for closed stacks in academic libraries? To be fair, access is being improved through UTLibrary’s embracing of open access. Copyright friendly books are in the process of being digitized through UTL’s partnership with the Open Content Alliance. The public can also browse reference books and current journals. For access to current materials, the public can request item retrieval, but to browse the stacks or borrow current materials the minimum cost is $60 for three months.
In a positive (perhaps pivotal) development report for Open Access, Harvard University is the first academic institution in the US requiring its scholars to make their research available in the institution’s open access repository. While it includes an opt-out provision, this is no doubt a bold and progressive move by Harvard University in support of access to knowledge.
Below are today’s blog posts, both before and after the vote:
Open Access News
Michael Geist’s blog
Joho the blog
Thanks to a colleague who sent me this post from TechCrunch “Google To Become Open Source Science Repository“:
Google is said to be preparing to launch a massive repository of science data at research.google.com. The project, known internally as “Palimpsest” will become a home for terabytes of open-source scientific datasets (…). [T]he storage will be free to all scientists, access to the data will be free for all (…). Two planned datasets are 120 terabytes of data from the Hubble Space Telescope and images from the Archimedes Palimpsest.
Some of the comments on this post are interesting, including some that question just how much information Google knows and owns. How much is too much? In the field of publicly funded research, shouldn’t libraries and government be providing these types of data repositories to make sure that they stay free of advertisements or other private interests?
Google will soon be releasing their own take on a Wikipedia-style of information resource - Google Knols (screenshot).
Some of the significant differences will be: named authors (who can choose to receive a portion of ad revenue for the “knol” pages they write) instead of Wikipedia’s anonymous author model. The site will allow multiple “knols” on a single topic (each will be written by a single author) with the community voting for the best one and suggesting changes in a separate area instead of the collaborative style of composing articles used on Wikipedia.
On a completely unrelated note, this will be the last Friday Fun Link I post on LibrarianActivist. After some recent discussions with the other two librarians I took on this project with about the future of the site, it was felt that we need to re-focus on the serious side of activism. We also discussed some other potential changes and improvements to the site. Hopefully more details about these items will be forthcoming in the weeks and months to come.
I am happy to remain involved with LA as a contributor but for anyone who’s enjoyed this recurring feature, I will continue to post the Friday Fun Links on my personal blog.
Librarian Chick provides an exhaustive list of online resources for students and librarians in the academic environment - from audio books to test taking and everything in between.
She also has a Learning Center that lets you search for free educational information, sites, games and software online.
Finally, to complete the trifecta of excellent resources, she also offers a search for free online audio books, e-books and textbooks. The search provides results from literally dozens of the biggest and most complete libraries that host free resources.
We’ve highlighted a couple sites in the past that offer free e-book downloads but this page has a comprehensive list of all the options online for getting free e-books and tree-books.
(I love that the title of the post where I saw it on MetaFilter is “The Best Place To Get Free Books” and the first comment is “…would be libraries.”)
The Internet Library of Early Journals is a digitized collection of journals from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Open Medicine’s first issue of peer reviewed medical literature is available online. Dean Giustini of UBC Library and the Google Scholar Blog has been a key player in bringing this new publication to life, and writes about it on both his blog, and now the Open Medicine blog as well. The journal was created in response to an editorial fiasco at the Canadian Medical Association Journal, with the intention of removing pharmaceutical industry influence over the production and dissemination of medical information.
Open Medicine is such a great title. It speaks to the need for not just open access to information, but also an open dialogue on how medical information is conceived, constructed, communicated, digested and negotiated. And while the open nature of the Internet provides an opportunity to level the playing field for patients, it is merely the first step to patient empowerment (not that anyone at OM has made an argument for technological utopianism). Pearl Jacobson notes in Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, power dynamics between patients and physicians are a key aspect to whether access to information will translate into actual patient empowerment on the ground.
Any open dialogue in the health library field that discusses what it means to ‘open medicine’ would best include a look at the term ‘consumer’. Does a term with free market connotations belong in the discourse of a public system? ‘Consumer’ suggests that patients have free will and ultimate control within the physician-patient encounter, which according to Jacobson’s review is not the case for a myriad of reasons. Recently on the PLG listserv, there was some excellent discussion and commentary on how language that expresses capitalist values and norms are not transferable to the field of librarianship. The term ‘customer’ was used on the CHLA listserv recently, and while I’m not familiar with the context from which it originated, it made me uneasy. Is there room for open dialogue on this subject in health libraries? What are the implications of a discourse that involves ‘consumerizing’ health information?
You can support the volunteer-supported Open Medicine by making a donation.
Congratulations go out to Marcel LaFlamme of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston, MA. for his essay entitled “Towards a Progressive Discourse on Community Needs Assessment: Perspectives from Collaborative Ethnography and Action Research.”
LaFlamme’s essay will be published in an upcoming edition of the PLG Journal.
Honourable mentions go to Katherine Becvar, Department of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, for her paper, “Intellectual Freedom and Sensitive Knowledge: Embracing Pluralism in the Process of Knowing,” and to Joshua Jackson, Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, for his paper “Taking the Next Step: A Critical Encounter with Critical Information Literacy.”
I for one am excited to hear about the work of fellow library students.
Anyone else for submitting this work to E-LIS?
via the PLG listserv
To add on to Sabina’s earlier post … now that Siobhan Stevenson’s call for keeping the public domain in public libraries has cracked into the public domain itself through First Monday, it’s time to talk turkey.
First, let me wax poetic for a moment and say that isn’t it great to be a part of a profession that shares information amongst each other, just because we want to? It will never cease to warm my heart. Second, our commitment to information sharing means that private interests from Gates and vendors alike, with their prepackaged sales pitches and honourary Harvard degrees, can’t measure up to the library community’s capacity to educate and inform the public, critically. It’s what we do.
That said, when terms such as Free and Open Source Software and Community Informatics arrive on the scene, they may not make the best first impression. FOSS and CI at first seem like brash guests at the party. They talk over your head, interrupt and confuse the humble and loyal guests, eat too much finger food and then question your menu choices, all while being nervy enough to recommend a better place for you to get your veggies.
Humph. So much for an invite back. However, if techie terms such as these crash the party again and continue to be so obtuse and unreachable, I urge you to see past their initial lack of manners and see them as the bold and renegade newcomers that they are, and simply need a guiding hand from some of the more experienced kids on the block. (And hey, they’ve got a solid point when it comes to buying more organic and locally grown food.)
If I were to have a standing list of block party invitees to mentor these newcomers into our midst, who would be on it? First, I’d make it a potluck. Second, I’d invite the ppl with whom FOSS and CI are already good friends and regularly exchange recipes.
The usual suspects of course:
Sarah Houghton-Jan. Too many ideas to mention.
Aaron Schmidt . Great blog title, appreciated the Gmail Greasemonkey tip.
Erica Olson. Another great blog title, probably helped me stay in library school at a moment of weakness. Includes some in your face techie goodness.
The Team at Lifehacker. (Still getting acquainted).
Casey Bisson. From whom there is recommended reading: Open Source Software and Libraries; LTR 43.3
And for a few Canadian based suspects
Dean Giustini - Open Medicine.
… this list is a work in progress. Any suggestions?
Not that I want to interrupt the letter you’re writing to the LPL board of directors, but as luck would have it, this would be the week that Canadian representatives decided to make life difficult at the World Intellectual Property Organization Development Agenda meetings in Geneva.
Fortunately, Michael Geist reports a positive update today on his blog.
Update: Reports this morning indicate progress with inclusion of the access to knowledge language. A welcome development, though Canada should be leading on these issues, not aligning itself against the developing world.
Apparently the Harper government needs a wake up call. If the Access to Knowledge issue is new to you, have a look at the Wikipedia community’s summary of A2K/Access to Knowledge. It also includes a long list of organizations active in the A2K movement.
The CIPO mission statement is also worth a look. I’m not seeing anything about Canada’s role internationally.
Keep up to date on IP news through IP Watch and Sarah Bannerman
via the CLA discussion list a la Heather Morrison
In keeping with the topic of the day, here’s a report on internet filtering from the National Coalition Against Censorship which is admittedly, a bit dated, having been produced in 2001. But it gives an excellent overview of many of the issues and problems being discussed in the wake of the LPL debate. And an update of the report in 2006 shows that the same concerns with internet filtering software remain to this day.
Here are some examples of what happens when you filter:
- CYBERsitter blocked a news item on the Amnesty International site after detecting the phrase “least 21.” The offending sentence described “at least 21” people killed or wounded in Indonesia.
- SurfWatch blocked the University of Kansas’s Archie R. Dykes Medical library upon detecting the word “dykes.”
- X-Stop blocked the “Let’s Have an Affair” catering company and searches for Bastard Out of Carolina and “The Owl and the Pussy Cat.”
- WebSense blocked a Texas cleanup project under the category of “sex,” and The Shoah Proj-ect, a Holocaust remembrance page, under the category of “racism/hate.”
- Cyber Patrol blocked a Knights of Columbus site and a site for aspiring dentists as “adult/sexually explicit.”
- BESS and SurfControl blocked curriculum materials on Populism because they also contained information about National Socialism. Symantec blocked the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun sites while allowing sites associated with gun control organizations.
- BESS blocked a site on fly fishing, a guide to allergies, and a site opposing the death penalty as “pornography.” It also blocked all Google and AltaVista image searches under its category of “pornography.”
Kudos to the Canadian Library Association and its Open Access Task Force for adopting an Open Access policy for CLA publications.
Here are main recommendatins of the report:
CLA will provide for full and immediate open access for all CLA publications, with the exception of Feliciter and monographs The embargo period for Feliciter is one issue, and the embargo policy itself will be reviewed after one year. Monographs will be considered for open access publishing on a case-by-case basis.
CLA actively encourages its members to self-archive in institutional and/or disciplinary repositories and will investigate a partnership with E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies.
CLA will generally provide for the author’s retention of copyright by employing Creative Commons licensing or publisher-author agreements that promote open access.
CLA will continue its long-standing policy of accessibility to virtually all CLA information except for narrowly defined confidential matters (e.g. certain personnel or legal matters).
For the full report click here.
via the CLA digest
Here’s a quick redirect to a Library Juice post with a couple of nice resources.
First is this guide for collecting from diverse sources (or: outsourcing, how not to).
Fostering Media Diversity in Libraries: Strategies and Actions.
Second there’s a link to a note on the ALA’s opposition to media concentration in the US since June 2003.
Relevant Canadian stuff from libraryland (found by searching the CLA website) is largely falling under the information literacy umbrella:
School Libraries in Canada link.
Information Literacy in Canada blog post.
Anyone familiar with UofT’s flagship humanities and social sciences Robart’s library knows that it’s the target of a lot of well earned potshots. Here are a few of its better known claims to fame:
is it sinking?
it’s a peacock … !?
The ‘prison’ analogy is another fave, what with the books cloistered into a closed stack system far, far away from the scant selection of windows.
Since 2005 however, quietly in a room in the library at St. Michael’s college, UofT’s partnership with the Open Content Alliance has been digitizing public domain works (books and more) for the Internet Archive. Blackfly magazine published an article (which inspired the heading for this post) in which Carole Moore, head librarian at the St. George campus spoke to UofT’s foray into digitizing public domain works in its collection to make them more accessible and the library more democratic. Articles also appeared at the outset of the project in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Owen Jarus at Blackfly spoke to how digitization can democratize and transform information through improved access, where WP and WSJ spoke to the business angle, mainly comparing the OCA’s initiative to the Google Books/copyright lawsuit situation. The subtext of course is ‘will we still need libraries’ if all the materials are online?
This week, I finished an intensive course on “Rethinking the Library” taught by guest instructor, Dr. Joseph Janes of the University of Washington’s iSchool. It gave a handful of lucky students the opportunity to have a forum to dialogue on where ‘the library’ is/can/should/isn’t going, and engage with the tough question of what was well coined by the University of Toronto Mississauga’s chief librarian, Mary Ann Mavrinac, as defining our ‘core’. While this question is an ongoing subtext to librarianship, having a sit down in a course environment was a great move. So kudos to the Faculty of Information studies at UofT for offering a full course on this important subject.
The content for me is still percolating … more discussion on this later. In the meantime, if you have burning thoughts on the matter, please chime in!
The author of the popular Freakonomics book looks at the question, “If public libraries didn’t exist, could you start one today?”
“But here’s the point I’m (finally) getting to: if there was no such thing today as the public library and someone like Bill Gates proposed to establish them in cities and towns across the U.S. (much like Andrew Carnegie once did), what would happen?
I am guessing there would be a huge pushback from book publishers. Given the current state of debate about intellectual property, can you imagine modern publishers being willing to sell one copy of a book and then have the owner let an unlimited number of strangers borrow it? I don’t think so.”
He doesn’t bring it up but I wonder if an analogy could be made to bit torrent sites today? One person buys a legitimate copy and then others are able to obtain a free copy. The only difference is that instead of dozens of uses as for popular library items, bit torrent allows thousands of copies to be downloaded. The other big difference is that bit torrent tends to focus on movies, music and TV shows that don’t have the history of “free” borrowing like books in a library do. And of course, you don’t have to “return” a digital copy.
It’s not a perfect analogy but the similarities are there.
Oh, and in a semi-related story, a PhD candidate in economics contends that the optimal length of copyright in today’s digital age is…fourteen years. (via Boing Boing)
Access Copyright has partnered with Creative Commons and WikiMedia (the people behind Wikipedia) to create a ground-breaking public domain registry that they hope becomes a model for the rest of the world.
Here’s an announcement they recently sent out:
Name the Public Domain Registry!
A product is only as good as the name you give it.
As reported in our most recent newsletter (July 26, 2007), Access Copyright has been working with Creative Commons and the Wikimedia Foundation on a Canadian Public Domain Registry. The registry will be an online, globally searchable database of Canadian works in the public domain and it will allow users to search and edit records, similar to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. For more information on the registry, please click here.
While the new registry will be both comprehensive and accessible, it also requires an easily identifiable name, which is where you come in. The public domain project needs your creative input. And who better to ask than our affiliates - Canada’s greatest creative resource!
Our hope at Access Copyright is that the new online registry will be a model for similar systems from other parts of the globe. As such, the name should brief, catchy, and one which could work for other countries wishing to create a registry of its own public domain works. Other than that, the only limits are your imagination and originality.
This is your chance to be an integral part of this ground-breaking project. Please send any and all suggestions, whether a list of one or 100, via email to the Communications Department at email@example.com. We will pare down the list and keep you posted on what the winning name is.
We appreciate your feedback as we move forward with this exciting project.
Wikipedia allows anonymous edits but it does track the IP of anyone who makes the edit. So a Cal-Tech computer grad student, inspired by news last year that Congress members’ offices had been editing their own entries, and curious whether other organizations were doing anything similar, developed a program to make it much easier to see the affiliation of anyone who made edits to any Wikipedia page.
This has led to numerous revelations about corporations like Fox News, organizations like the CIA and individuals such as staffers for a current US Presidential candidate abusing the intent of Wikipedia
(via MetaFilter which has lots of other links I didn’t include in this post)
I did an earlier post about the guy who designed a program to link IP addresses to Wikipedia edits. This has led to all kinds of discoveries of spin, manipulation and outright lies being planted by individuals and organizations who want to harm others or clean up their own image.
Now a blogger has compiled a list of the seven most scandalous edits that have been discovered…so far.
Why would the copyright database in the US be copyrighted (and for sale for big bucks) if it contains public records? Some librarians didn’t agree with the “Library of Commerce’s” stance on the issue and took things into their own hands.
(via Boing Boing)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has put up over 13 000 segments going back to 1999. That’s pretty cool…or at least it would be if I could get any of the videos in the archives to load.
Maybe the site’s just being hammered with traffic because it’s so new. But it almost makes you wish some of these media giant properties would skip the proprietary site designs and media players and just put it all up on YouTube instead.
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An Indian physicist puts a PC with a high speed internet connection in a wall in the slums and watches what happens.
What he discovered was that the most avid users of the machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom have only the most rudimentary education and little knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had taught themselves to draw on the computer and to browse the Net. Some of the other things they learned, Mitra says, astonished him.
Strong evidence in favour of the $100 laptop? I think so!