on metadata and the printed word

last checked out in 1963

I went to the Belmont Public Library this weekend because it’s my boyfriend’s local library and he is, as you might suspect, a heavy library user. The library is in an old building that is clearly reaching the end of its usefulness as a 21st century library, but they seem to do the best they can. They are part of the Minuteman Library Network which means they have access to a lot of consortium-level technology which can really help out when you’re working in an institutional-green building with furniture from the late seventies. I had a good time there in any case and I took some pictures including the one above.

What first got me about this book was that it hadn’t been taken out since 1963. Well, that’s not quite correct. We know it was checked out in 1963 and was possibly checked out after [whatever date the OPAC took over] a date I don’t know. What occurred to me later as I looked at this picture is how much else we know about this book simply by looking at this card.

  • the date the book was acquired by the library
  • the title of the book
  • the last name of the author of the book
  • The patron number of the person who checked the book out last
  • the call number of the book
  • the library the book is from
  • the lending period of the book
  • the date the book was last checked out (before the OPAC)
  • the fact that the library card pocket was union made

That’s a lot of data. I can also, using that data, find the full text of this book both at the Internet Archive (a little messed up, for some reason) and as PDFs (with images) at the Google Books project which is searchable. In fact, there appear to be three versions of this book on Google Books (1, 2, 3) only one of which includes page two which has a photo of the author. Nothing much else to add, just finding this whole exploration process interesting.

Google’s book people talk to librarians at Midwinter

Library Journal has a thorough article reporting on the panel on the Google Books settlement that happened at Midwinter.

Mitch Freedman, past president of ALA, wondered about changes to the “free to all” ideology of libraries, asking whether Google would permit, as do other databases, site licenses for public libraries. [Google's Dan] Clancy said that, given the consumer market, there was no agreement on remote access, but that could change down the road. “Authors and publishers were not comfortable with remote access.” While Freedman said that issue was resolved with database publishers, Clancy responded that those publishers don’t have a model aimed at consumers. He noted that “the challenge of selling into this market is not Google’s core competence,” so consortial discounts are authorized in the agreement.

Google’s scanning magazines…..

Google now has magazine scans as well

Google Books includes magazines now. Here’s an image from the May 1911 issue of Popular Science. Update: here’s a list of the magazines currently scanned and indexed.

What is up with the Google Books settlement?

I’m as confused as you are about the Google Books settlement. I’ve found a few analyses helpful.

It’s a more “okay now walk the talk” look at what the settlement says explicitly, what it allows for, and how it should be handled.

Harvard decides to opt out of Google book scanning

In light of the recent Google Books/APA settlement, Harvard has examined the details and decided not to be part of the project after all.

Harvard’s university-library director, Robert C. Darnton, wrote in a letter to the library staff, “the settlement provides no assurance that the prices charged for access will be reasonable, especially since the subscription services will have no real competitors [and] the scope of access to the digitized books is in various ways both limited and uncertain.” He also expressed concern about the quality of the scanned books, which “in many cases will be missing photographs, illustrations, and other pictorial works, which will reduce their utility for research.”

Update: According to the comments, I had this sort of wrong. Harvard is deciding to not have Google scan their copyrighted books but the digitzation project proceeds apace. Thanks Jon.

Google Book Search Copyright Settlement

Information you may want if you’re interested in the Google Books lawsuit. I’m still reading so haven’t yet analyzed but this seems like good news?

The library section, down near the bottom of the second link, says this.

This agreement wouldn’t have been possible without all the libraries who have preserved these books and now partnered with us to make so many of them discoverable online. We’re delighted that this agreement creates new opportunities for libraries and universities to offer their patrons and students access to millions of books beyond their own collections. In addition to the institutional subscriptions and the free public access terminals, the agreement also creates opportunities for researchers to study the millions of volumes in the Book Search index. Academics will be able to apply through an institution to run computational queries through the index without actually reading individual books.

zomg embedded book!

The Google Operating System blog has taught me how to do this…


Accessibility of Google Books

A little-known nifty thing about Google Books is that books already digitized via GB, whether in copyright or not, can be made available to students with visual disabilities. More inside scoop on the MBooks project at the BLT blog and at the MBooks accessibility page.

We now have a system in place for students with visual impairments to use MBooks [i.e. the digitized collection] in much the same way. Once a student registers with OSSD, any time she checks out a book already digitized by Google, she will automatically receive an email with a URL. Once the student selects the link, she is asked to login. The system checks whether the student is registered with OSSD as part of this program, and whether she has checked out this particular book. If the student passes both of those tests, she will get access to the entire full-text of the book, whether it is in copyright or not, in an interface that is optimized for use with screen readers. Currently, this system is available to UM students with visual impairments. We are investigating the possibility of including students with learning disabilities as well.

Working towards more public books, fewer orphan works

Public domain determination becomes clearer cut, more books entering the public domain thanks to … Google? Jacob Kramer-Duffield explains how Google and Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders put their book-scanning and OCR-ing smarts into trying to solve the thorny orphan works problem to determine which out of print books have had their copyrights renewed and which haven’t. Neat. [via joho]

The Decoration of Houses – book shelving chapter

IN the days when furniture was defined as “that which may be carried about,” the natural bookcase was a chest with a strong lock. These chests, packed with precious manuscripts, followed the prince or noble from one castle to another, and were even carried after him into camp. Before the invention of printing, when twenty or thirty books formed an exceptionally large library, and many great personages were content with the possession of one volume, such ambulant bookcases were sufficient for the requirements of the most eager bibliophile.

I enjoyed Henry Petroski’s treatise on book shelving called The Book on the Book Shelf. I am also enjoying Edith Wharton’s 1897 chapter on a smilar topic. [thanks will!]