a shot over the bow – Aaron Swartz indicted for … downloading articles from JSTOR?

I saw this post circulating around facebook and, of course, the word “library” caught my eye. The Boston Globe has a longer explanation about what all the kerfuffle is about, but still uses words like “hacking.” The Demand Progress blog, the organization that Aaron directs, has this statement and some additional blog posts. The New York Times seems to have the most comprehensive explanation of what happened when and has the text of the indictment.

What we do know is that the US Government has indicted Aaron Swartz [who you may know around the internet for any number of things] for, apparently and allegedly, downloading 4mil articles from JSTOR without (I think?) the proper credentials. Aaron turned himself in. At issue are many points of JSTORs terms of service and what sort of access is given to guests of the university. As Aaron is a net activist, I’m certain this is some level of intentional move on his part, I’m quite curious to see where it goes.

Update: JSTORs official statement, Wired article with more details

The Digital Public Library of America and you, and me

Those of you who follow my antics know I was at an all-day meeting for the Digital Public Library of America project on Tuesday. While I have vague ideas what I was doing there, I have to say that I was still surprised at how few other representatives of rural and/or digitally divided folks were there. You can see the invite list here. I felt lucky that many of my viewpoints were ably represented by Josie Parker from Ann Arbor Public Library, Tony Marx from New York Public Library and Molly Raphael incoming president of ALA. Also in attendance were some of my favorite free culture folks: Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive, Chris Freeland from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and my friend Richard Nash who runs Cursor Books. I also got to sit right next to Steve Potash from OverDrive right when everyone wanted a piece of him. That said, you can read the list and I’m sure you only vaguely care who I had dinner with. The meeting took place using Chatham House Rules meaning that in the interests of people being able to speak freely, nothing people said would be directly attributed to them.

So, let’s talk about what actually got me out of bed early on a Tuesday morning and has had me all hoppitamoppita since then. I’m going to use the “more inside” thingdoo on WordPress for possibly the first time ever. (more…)

Digital Public Library of America – dream big

One of the sad side effects of the interesting evolution of the Google Books/Google Editions product is how many people have been saying “Libraries should have done this. This should be our territory.” While there are some great library-like digital content sites such as Open Library they’re often more concerned with curation than content creation. And we have a lot of content that needs to go digital. But who has time and who has resources?

This week the Berkman Center announced a Digital Public Library Planning Initiative, bringing together a diverse group of librarians and free culture advocates to make a plan for a Digital Public Library of America. Exciting ideas brought to the table by people I trust, about things I care about. It’s a grat time to be a librarian.

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.

Harvard’s Theatrum Catalogorum

A few people from the Early Modern Studies Group at Harvard have created the Theatrum Catalogorum which collates “library catalogs from every major European country” The next version should countain North American catalogs as well. Of particular interest is the fact that these catalogs are not just linked, they are annotated somewhat. While most of these notes are jus tinformation for English speakers on how to search the catalogs, library geeks will enjoy some of the meta-commentary such as “Many early modern holdings probably lost in an eighteenth-century fire.” or “Don’t bother looking in 1930-1991 or 1992-present catalogs.” [thanks pk]

budget cuts for staff = books lost forever

Books are getting lost. When they’re lost people don’t check them out. When people don’t check them out, we think people don’t like them. When we think people don’t like them, we sometimes weed them (if we can find them). Why is this happening? Bad cataloging, especially in books written in non-English languages. What’s going on, and how is rampant copy-cataloging making the problem worse?

Recently, [researcher Joyce] Flynn checked Harvard’s less-than-25-year-old computer-based catalogue system, and discovered that many – perhaps most – of the Gaelic and Irish books with Na … titles are miscatalogued and so, in this odd way, are half-missing. That catalogue system is now the only way the public can access titles in the Harvard College Library collections.

“The issue goes beyond just Harvard’s Widener Library,” Flynn says. “Because Widener is often the first North American library to acquire and catalogue an obscure foreign language title, Widener’s cataloguing data frequently become the standard for libraries that acquire the book later.

another library cafe, at Harvard

Gov Docs May Make Way For New Café. [thanks dan]

google print + harvard library

Interesting wrinkle in the Google Print Library project as it’s being worked out at Harvard Library. Publishers think Google needs to ask their permission before it copies their works, even if they’re in the public domain.

“The law does not permit wholesale copying (which is what digitisation is) by a commercial organisation of works that are still in copyright,” she wrote. “It is also illegal to make those works available digitally once they have been copied.”

Morris wrote that Google needs to obtain permission from publishers before using their work. While she wrote that it may be impractical to ask every publisher, Google should ask permission through collective licensing organizations.

Also interesting, seems that while Google Print actually destroys the books it scans, Google Print Library does not.