Launched yesterday, the Digital Public Library of America’s portal offers browsing and search access to a still growing aggregation of cultural heritage records from dozens of US cultural heritage institutions. At the same time, DPLA began offering programmatic access to its metadata stores, urging developers to create their own interfaces and access points to the collections. First impressions have been almost uniformly positive, though many have suggested avenues for further enhancements and refinements.
Recently I was talking with a Duke faculty member and editor of a prominent scholarly journal about ways to improve access to the journal he edits. In the midst of the conversation, I found myself being lectured on the need to get scholarly publishing out from under the control of commercial publishing firms. What were libraries going to do, I was asked, to break the stranglehold that commercial publishing had over scholarship? Fortunately I had some answers for him, and a great deal of sympathy for his perspective. But it was very odd to have the tables turned on me like that; I am usually the advocate for open access and new models of scholarly communications, so it was strange to be treated, even briefly, as a defender of the status quo.
Librarians rejoice! The Supreme Court of the United States insisted in its Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision that we can legally lend foreign-manufactured materials!
The case was about textbooks and textbook-market arbitrage, though. That’s worth keeping sight of. Extrapolating from reactions on all sides, what does the Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision likely mean for the textbook-publishing business, and what can textbook publishers and libraries do if they don’t like that?
The question that has most frequently come up in the course of the two-year planning process for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has been a very simple one: What is it?
Since April 2010, the planning initiative has taken the form of an extended, national design phase to plan out what we should build together. The emphasis of this process has been to solicit diverse views as to what the “it” should be that we are working toward.
Collaboration among libraries has been a grand tradition, but the need to collaborate has, perhaps, never been more pressing than now.
The lack of available space, budget cuts, uneven usage, and availability of electronic resources and new technologies help give impetus to large-scale efforts, but there is a layer of collaboration that is less provocative and does not always receive the spotlight but which, nevertheless, is driven even more so by these factors and is just as integral to the future of libraries.
The Department of Education recently ruled to give colleges and universities more flexibility in allowing competency-based programs for degree credit. This rethinking of how students can earn credit creates new opportunities for academic librarians to help students accumulate those competencies. Who says higher education is the most change resistant institution? Admittedly, some of the traditional practices, such as face-to-face lecturing, majors, and credit hours, remain the same after hundreds of years. But throughout that time there are notable pockets of experimentation. One of the big ones is about to commence. Change indeed!
More than 50 academic libraries, in collaboration with the Educopia Institute, founded the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) this January. The project initially emerged from conversations between Purdue University, the University of North Texas, and Virginia Tech. LJ caught up with the co-authors of the LPC’s founding documents—Julie G. Speer, Associate Dean for Research and Informatics, University Libraries Virginia Tech, and Charles Watkinson, Director and Head of Purdue Libraries’ Scholarly Publishing Services and the Purdue University Press—to find out how the LPC is progressing.
New York City’s underground transit system may be the final digital frontier: on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)’s hundreds of miles of subterranean track, Internet access is not available. But a speculative ad campaign has suggested that a Wi-Fi-free digital information exchange on the subway is possible—and could boost library readership. The one minute “Underground Library” commercial from students at the Miami Ad School promotes an as-yet nonexistent library program which would allow smartphone users to download book extracts from the New York Public Library (NYPL) during their commutes.
The Free Library of Philadelphia will launch what it calls the first virtual library at a U.S. train station on April 2. Throughout National Library Month (April), commuters will be able to download books, music, and podcasts by scanning QR codes placed on 76 advertising boards on Philly’s Suburban Station platforms.