Public libraries in the United Kingdom are set to play a role in expanding public access to academic research via the recently announced “Access to Research” plan. Thousands of research journal articles will be made available for free: but only on computers located physically within a public library, not remotely.
In a ruling that could have serious implications for the way Internet access is regulated in the United States, the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this morning that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority to impose so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules on Internet service providers (ISPs).
Hundreds of new pieces of scientific research are published every month, in fields from physics to biology. While the studies themselves are assiduously archived by publishers, the underlying data researchers analyze to come to their published conclusions can be another story. A recent study in the journal Current Biology found that the data that forms the backbone of those studies becomes less and less accessible to researchers over the years. That lack of archiving, says University of British Columbia zoologist Tim Vines, represents a missed opportunity for the scientific community as a whole.
The U.S Department of Commerce (DoC) has been collecting public comment on the topic of the first sale doctrine and digital files in recent weeks; the agency was scheduled to meet about the issue on December 12 in Washington, DC. First sale doctrine is a set of exemptions to U.S. copyright law that permit consumers to resell used books or DVDs and libraries to loan books without seeking permission from publishers. Yet for reasons examined in more detail below, first sale exemptions have not translated well for digital content. The DoC’s call for public comment could mark the beginning of a campaign to reassess what copyright and first sale mean in the modern digital era, notes one expert.
Since the term was coined five years ago, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been a subject of much debate in educational circles. In their brief life span, the courses, in which up to many thousands of students can participate, have demonstrated the promise of new technology to democratize education by some and been declared failed experiments by others. MOOC professors, though, say that it’s too early to judge how MOOCs perform, and that after just a few years, even those in the know are still figuring out what MOOCs really are and what shape—or shapes—they’ll take in the future. Whatever MOOCs look like going forward, though, libraries—in the academic and public sphere alike—will play a key role in helping to determine their design and success. In just the few months since we looked in LJ at the MOOC environment (“Massive Open Opportunity,” LJ 5/1/13), the quickly moving field has evolved significantly.
Massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) have dominated the conversation in higher education since their sudden arrival in spring 2012. The MOOC movement is evidence of the profoundly disruptive change that is widely seen as coming to higher education. If there is any unit on a university campus that has survived and thrived on disruptive change, it is the library. Libraries in institutions actively offering MOOCs applied this background to figuring out how to manage intellectual property questions. However, for libraries in universities not offering MOOCs, there seemed to be no role, other than to watch and read about the movement in wonder, amusement, and occasional envy. For the Z. Smith Reynolds Library (ZSR) at Wake Forest University (WFU), however, this was not enough. So when WFU was not contemplating offering any MOOCs in 2012, the library decided to experiment with an open, online course on its own.
While much has been written about the role of academic libraries in supporting massive open online courses (MOOCs), the inclusion of MOOCs in a public library setting is largely unexplored territory. This past summer, the Ridgefield Library included a MOOC as part of its adult summer reading program. Based on this experience, the Ridgefield Library plans to continue as a meet-up destination for MOOCs as part of its mission to be “an intellectual and cultural center” and to support lifelong learning for all ages.
The Shelley-Godwin Archive, a free online resource featuring the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, will include tools designed to encourage collaborative humanities research, similar to collaborative public projects in the sciences.
Video games are already raising many of the thorniest challenges in the field of digital preservation, and as games continue to become more complex, those challenges are rapidly compounding. One of the most extensive recent efforts to analyze these challenges has been the Preserving Virtual Worlds (PVW) project, a collaborative research venture of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stanford, the University of Maryland, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and digital entertainment developer Linden Lab, best known for the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Second Life.