a note from Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Quick update from the library in Alexandria.

The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters. I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours. However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.

finger pointing when digital archives disappear

I really enjoyed this article about Google buying up the Paper of Record digital news archives and then “disappearing” it somehow. The timeline is a little unclear and it’s back online for now, but as Google figures out how to monetize it and researchers yowl about lack of access, it raises some pretty interesting issues about scholarship. As information ownership changes hands — and I think if we weren’t talking about Google here we’d be talking about someone else, so it’s not really about them — data can literally disappear either behind a paywall or just gone. Particularly poignant in this case is the comment (sorry no permalink) on the Inside Higher Ed story by Bob Huggins the original founder/creator of the archive discussing what’s happening with the archive now.

When exactly does the cat fight end? It slays me to see the great American Us versus Them debate rage on( I comment as a Canadian). As person who pioneered the digitization of newspapers in the world with our company, Cold North Wind, I fail to see how this acrimony between Academics and Google helps ‘joe public’ access the public record. I have stated on numerous occasions that the newspaper represents ‘our’ only record of daily public life for the past 500 years with a special emphasis on the word “public”… I have been through the grinding wheels of both Google and many public institutions whose goal it seems is to preserve and present history from Newspapers. Both have let me down.

LAPLs screenwriting homeless

“When they come up to the desk they are treated with respect and this may be the only place in their lives that they can experience that.” a public interest news story about LAPL and some of the homeless people who come there every day. Since it’s LA, you will not be surprised to learn that one of them has used the library computers to write a screenplay.

check out Blake’s new site LISWire

Blake Carver has launched his new site LISWire this week. Working with Robin “birdie” Blum they are creating a site where businesses and individuals can send news releases and get them online and subscribable/linkable. I am looking forward to being able to send this URL to all the nice well-meaning people who send me press releases in email. I always write back to them, “this sounds great, do you have a URL where I can link to this information?” and now I can give them someplace to send it so it can be linkable by them and readable by others. Blake is inviting feedback on the new site, if you have a second, drop by and give him some critique.