Before there was Braille, there was Moon. Check out these photos from some antiquarian Moon books. More on Moon. This post was made the same day that the Internet Archive announced that they have one million books available in DAISY format for blind and visually disabled folks. Not just talk, here’s the list of them. Image is from this book. [via]
This all started with a little wink-wink posting about OCLC from Tim over at LibraryThing which was the first I’d heard about OCLC’s policy changes. As someone who doesn’t interact with OCLC or their data too much, I didn’t really understand this and had to wait for some clarification posts to understand both what was going on and how it affected people and projects like LibraryThing and Open Library. The upshot as I understand it is that OCLC is basically saying “Sure you can share your records, but not with people or organizations who materially compete with us” That’s my summary anyhow. Here’s the non-legalese policy on the OCLC site. Here’s the more legalese version. Here’s a wiki version of the changes between the “old” new policy and the new policy. Isn’t technology grand? Karen Calhoun a VP over at OCLC has written a defense of the new policy on her own blog; there is some lively discussion happening in the comments. There is also this podcast of Roy Tennant and Karen Calhoun talking with Richard Wallis from Talis (whose business model is also potentially affected by this policy change) about the ramifications of this change.
So, the policy OCLC has put up has been revised somewhat, doesn’t go into effect until February, and gives people a lot of time to think about what if anything they want to do about this. Tim Spalding has a business model that is compromised by OCLCs refusal to let their members share these records. The Open Library project is also possible compromised and Aaron Swartz has written two posts about the policy change: Stealing Your Library: The OCLC Powergrab and OCLC On The Run. He also directs people to the Stop OCLC Petition if you’d like to sign on to ask OCLC to repeal these changes. More community discussion taking place at MetaFilter, Inside Higher Ed, and Slashdot and code4lib is maintaining a wiki with links to more commentary. I’m still catching up on the back and forth and may write more later, but it’s interesting to watch this unfold.
A few neat announcements in libraryland concerning data or connectors being made more open and available. These two examples may not seem as linked as they are.
- LibraryThing releases (sort of) (almost) a million book covers, free for your use, under most circumstances. You can also cache the covers locally as long as you don’t do it in such a way that you support LT competitors. While I understand why this isn’t linked with the Open Library project, I’d love to see it get there in the future sometime. update: John Miedema reminds me in the comments that I’d meant to also link to the openbook WordPress plugin for people using WordPress.
- WorldCat released their search API over the weekend. As with many OCLC things, this is great news for their member libraries and not that great for anyone else, but it’s a real step towards letting (their) people get at their data, not just their web pages. You can get some details, in slightly dense format, on this page.
David Weinberger blogs about Aaron Swartz talking at the Berkman Center about the Open Library project. Pay close attention to the Q and A and think about this in terms of the Google Books post/article from yesterday. Who is really in faveor of openness? Who talks the most about openness? Want to help? They still need programmers. And book lovers.
Q: Why won’t OCLC give you the data?
A: We’d take it in any form. We’d be willing to pay. Getting through the library bureaucracy is difficult…
A: (terry) You need to find the right person at OCLC
A: We’ve talked with them at a high level and they won’t give us any information. Too bad since they’re a non-profit. Library records are not copyrightable. OCLC contractually binds libraries.