There’s an ongoing theme in library programming: trying to find stuff that isn’t the stuff that’s already been done. While there are aspects of “Just play the hits, man” in a lot of the work we do, that doesn’t mean we can’t find new, original and/or interesting things to do with the huge amount of local cultural content that we have at our fingertips but that might not be common knowledge in our larger communities. The Library as Incubator Project is a site full of great ideas, lovely photographs, sharp writing by three UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies (and guest bloggers) outlining ways that libraries and artists can work together. Good ideas, well-presented.
I’ve been reading articles for the past few days talking about the ongoing debate between LibLime/PTFS and the Koha community working on a different version of the same software. Here is an article from Linux Weekly from last year describing the forking issue, the point at which LibLime/PTFS started independently developing their own version of the open source ILS Koha. Recently LibLime was granted the use of the trademark Koha in and around New Zealand according to their press release though it’s not entirely clear if a Maori word can even be trademarked. The Koha community centered around the original code at the Horowhenua Library Trust is concerned that PTFS will not make a good faith effort to do what it says it’s interested in doing: transferring the rights to the trademark back to the community. They are concerned that there will be a legal fight and are requesting donations and other support. Meanwhile LibLime appears to have lost significant ground to other versions of Koha according to the Library Technology Guide’s ILS turnover chart for last year. Seems like a good point in time for the libraries who are using LibLime/PTFS’s version of Koha to step up and make sure that their own vision of the open source community and their products is being respected and upheld by the companies who they are paying. Further reading on this topic is available at this Zotero group.
I think one of the many many things that is exacerbated by the digital divide is the gap in understanding about digital content. That is, the difference between what digital content is innately, what it becomes when it becomes a transactional item (i.e. with checkoutability), and what aspects of both of these “states of being” are created by whom.
So, it’s one thing to say “We have ebooks!” and quite another to represent the “ecosystem” of ebooks (to quote a recent talk I heard from a representative of the American Publishers’ Association) as being analogous to the one that paper books inhabit. This is just a long lead-up to linking to this article about bittorenting and using it to access copyrighted works and what you might find there. The author, Jeff Duntemann, is a friend of a friend and wrote a piece looking at which Dummies books are actually available on The Pirate Bay in the light of Wiley filing a copyright lawsuit against people pirating their books using Bittorent. For people familiar with the world of underground ebooking, this will be nothing new. For people who aren’t quite sure exactly how people get and/or redistribute digital content, this post should be helpful for you. Duntemann notes that the bulk of ebook swapping likely isn’t even taking place on big public torrent tracking sites like The Pirate Bay because ebook files are smaller and can be distributed in any number of different ways. He notes:
Video rules the torrent world because video is big, and the BitTorrent protocol is the most effective way to get video downloaded quickly. Small files like ebooks are elsewhere, unless they’re gathered into massive collections the size of Blu-Ray rips. Ebook piracy seems to be a minor issue today because ebook piracy is mostly invisible. It’s out there, and for all that I’ve pondered the problem, I return to the conclusion that the problem has no solution other than to sell the goods easily and cheaply, and to stop teaching people to be pirates by making the media experience complicated with DRM.
In the meantime, I’m considering purchasing this book for my local library. I think we as librarians need to understand these systems if we’re going to be working within and around them.
Someone pointed out on MetaFilter (warning: long thread) that Penn State has created a page about the Sandusky Scandal in their research guides section. This is a great way for an institution to have a somewhat official response that is outside of the usual damage control stuff we usually see when things like this happen. I also noticed the nice bar across the top of the page (as of this writing) with an alert saying the digitized collections will be down for maintenance.
The more libraries can be responsive to what is going on within their communities and can respond with resources and facts, the more we’ll be seen as integral to our communities. Even after 5+ years of Library 2.0 discussions, this sort of thing is still so often not managed as something the library should have a central role in.
I’ve been waiting a few days to post anything. There have been conflicting reports on what happened to the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library when Zuccotti Park was raided and people in the Occupy Wall Street occupation were removed, sometimes forcibly. There were reports that the 5000+ books from the OWS Library had been tossed in a dumpster. Then there were reports that the materials were removed but not disposed of. The feeling that I got was that your impression of what happened to the stuff was shaped largely by which side of the project you sympathized with the most, but I was holding out hope that the OWS People’s Library materials would be found safe, even if I didn’t personally believe that would be the case. Today I have been reading the official reports from the people who had been working in the library and it seems that while some of their stuff is okay, much of it has been destroyed or missing. This is the current post that is being updated about the state of their stuff and the state of the people who were arrested inside the library [as of now, one appears to be out, one is still being held]. If you’re in the area, they’d appreciate some help sorting through things and especially transporting them.
update: very good overview about yesterday’s activities by Rachel Maddow. Nice shoutout to LibraryThing!