Monday, November 30, 2009

New England University Presidents Support Bill for Public Access

The Presidents of six public universities in New England have written a letter supporting the proposed Federal Research Public Access Act. This act (FRPAA), if passed, "would require that 11 U.S. government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures over $100 million make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available via the Internet. The manuscripts will be maintained and preserved in a digital archive maintained by the agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Each manuscript will be freely available to users without charge within six months after it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal." The six universities are: U. of Connecticut, U. of Maine, U. of Massachusetts – Amherst, U. of New Hampshire, U. of Rhode Island, and U. of Vermont.

Excerpt from letter:
. . . . Dissemination of results is an essential component of the land-grant tradition of research and of our investment in science. We share your concern that far too often the results of research funded by the U.S. government are not broadly available to researchers, scientists, and members of the public. In addition to ensuring that this research is made available quickly, it is also critical that the published information remain broadly available for future use. We are pleased to see that your bill is designed to support both early, as well as long-term, access to scientific research results. . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funding for Digital Preservation, including Theses & Dissertations from Boston College

Library of Congress Selects the MetaArchive Cooperative as a Continuing Partner in the National Digital Preservation Program

NOTE: Boston College is a member of the MetaArchive Cooperative.

Chestnut Hill, MA, November, 2009 – The MetaArchive Cooperative, an independent, international membership association that coordinates collaborative and distributed digital preservation solutions for cultural memory organizations, has received $659,052 to preserve our nation’s at-risk digital materials as part of the Library of Congress’s award-winning National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). With this funding, the Cooperative will continue to encourage and support universities, libraries, archives, museums, and government agencies as they take an active role in the preservation of their digital assets in the face of daily threats such as blackouts, fires, and hurricanes, as well as basic hardware and software failure.

“For centuries, archives and libraries have borne the responsibility of preserving our nation’s cultural assets,” said Katherine Skinner, the Executive Director of the Educopia Institute, which hosts the MetaArchive Cooperative. “The MetaArchive Cooperative enables these groups to continue providing that essential service for at-risk digital materials, including our nation’s political, social, and cultural assets that are now created and stored on computers—newspapers, book manuscripts, correspondence files, and other items that researchers will depend upon in order to understand our world and its transition into the digital age.”

The Cooperative was founded in 2004 by Emory University, Auburn University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Louisville, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as part of the Library of Congress’s NDIIPP. As one of its initial collaborative ventures, the Cooperative developed an organizational model and implemented a technical infrastructure based on the LOCKSS software for preserving the digital assets of cultural memory organizations through a low-cost, geographically distributed framework.

The Cooperative began actively preserving content in 2005, including library-based repositories and ephemeral works such as online exhibitions and cultural history Web site displays. By 2007, the Cooperative had become an independent organization and began accepting new members at the discretion of the Steering Committee. Its membership has grown to include: Boston College, Clemson University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Pontif√≠cia Universidade Cat√≥lica do Rio de Janeiro, Rice University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Hull in the UK. In partnership with the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), the Cooperative has also created a dark archive of Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Boston College has made the transition from a paper-based submission process to an electronic submission process for all of its dissertations and theses. BC’s collection of graduate scholarship is being preserved as digital content in the ETD (Electronic Theses & Dissertations) archive of the MetaArchive Cooperative.

As NDIIPP draws to a close in 2010 and moves to formalize a national digital stewardship alliance, the Library of Congress has selected the MetaArchive Cooperative to be a continuing partner due to its sustained contribution to national digital stewardship. The Library of Congress will provide the MetaArchive Cooperative with operational funding in the amount of $659,052 during the contract period, August 1, 2009 - July 31, 2011.

Commenting on this next phase, Martin Halbert, founder and President of the Cooperative, stated that the Library of Congress should be “commended for its commitment to empowering institutional collaboration and sustainability in the preservation of our nation’s cultural memory. The Cooperative members are very proud of what they have accomplished through this unique collaborative endeavor. It has never been easy for universities in particular to pull together in such a prolonged fashion—but each of our members recognizes the importance of fulfilling the critical need for digital preservation.”

This support will enable the MetaArchive Cooperative to maintain and supplement the Cooperative’s growth and viability and to encourage other communities to also implement their own low-cost, distributed digital preservation networks using LOCKSS. As Katherine Skinner, the Program Manager for the MetaArchive Cooperative, has said, “Our goal is to encourage the adoption of distributed digital preservation. In addition to welcoming new members into the Cooperative and our existing networks, we also want other cultural memory organizations to freely adopt our technical and administrative frameworks to form new preservation networks of their own.”

For additional information please contact Katherine Skinner at 404-783-2534 or Also feel free to visit the MetaArchive Cooperative at their public website:

The MetaArchive Cooperative is an independent, international membership association administered by the Educopia Institute based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ArXiv Awarded NSF Funding from Federal Stimulus Money

Nanotechnology Now, “your gateway for all things nano”, recently reported that the ArXiv e-print repository, housed at Cornell University, has been awarded a three-year $883,000 National Science Foundation grant, funded by federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ArXiv hosts some 600,000 papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics, with some 5,000 new papers submitted each month. ArXiv serves as a central repository and locus for scholarly discussion within the disciplines it covers, providing for extensive peer-vetting before papers are published. Among other benefits, the new monies will fund enhancements to concept searching, increasing the accessibility of these documents, and support development of new format options for researcher submissions.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shakespeare Quartos Archive Opens Access to Hamlet

The Shakespeare Quartos Archive, a project undertaken by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, has just been made available (Thanks to Jill Thomas for providing the information). From the Press Release:
. . . . For the first time, all 32 existing quarto copies of the play held by participating UK and US institutions are freely available online in one place. This initiative is jointly led by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, through a joint transatlantic grant from Jisc in the UK and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US. . . .

Now scholars can explore these different quarto versions side by side for the first time on the project website. It features high-quality reproductions and searchable full text of surviving copies of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in quarto in an interactive interface. Functions and tools – such as the ability to overlay images, compare them side-by-side, and mark and tag features with user annotations – facilitate scholarly research, performance studies, and new applications for learning and teaching.

The project, which began in April 2008, reunites all 75 pre-1642 quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays into a single online collection. The prototype interface is at present fully functional only for Hamlet, but the Shakespeare Quartos Archive plans to apply this technology to all the plays in quarto, and to seek involvement from new partner institutions. . . .

The Shakespeare Quartos Archive contains texts drawn from the British Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the University of Edinburgh Library, in addition to the Bodleian Library. These six institutions worked in conjunction with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland, and The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, to digitize and transcribe 32 copies of Hamlet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ARL Reports Findings of E-Science Survey

In the October 2009 ARL membership meeting, the findings of a survey of ARL libraries were reported. The survey was designed to provide some information about the extent of involvement of ARL member libraries with e-science. According to the website of the UK's Science & Tchnology Facilities Council:
e-Science provides the computing, data storage and networking infrastructure required by today's advanced science facilities to support the complete scientific lifecycle, from background research, through simulation and experimental design, data collection and analysis to publication.
Here is the background information about the ARL's e-science survey:
The ARL E-Science Working Group surveyed member libraries in August and September of 2009 to gather data on the state of engagement with e-science issues among member libraries and their research institutions. The survey findings are intended to assist the membership in understanding the community’s involvement with e-science support and will help the working group act to support members in this emergent arena. The survey provides a current snapshot of data curation and e-science support activities, documenting a range of approaches and strategies evolving at research institutions and among research libraries.

The research libraries reported on widespread planning and development at their institutions and described a variety of models for service provision and infrastructure development. Library engagement in data curation was also common. Respondents provided information on library services, organizational structures, staffing patterns and staff development, and involvement in research grants, along with perspectives on pressure points for service development.

In addition to providing a picture of support for e-science activities at research institutions and models for a variety of activities and services, the survey findings provide a foundation for planning ARL’s next steps in advancing support for e-science.

In addition to a summary of survey finding, information about resources for institutional and library support of e-science is available.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Letter to Congress 41 Nobel Prize Winners Urge Open Access

On 6 November, 2009 forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry delivered an open letter to Congress urging open access to federally funded research and requesting support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373). Excerpts:
Dear Member of Congress:
As scientists and Nobel Laureates, we write to express our strong support for S. 1373, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). This bi-partisan legislation, sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX), would enhance access to federally funded, published research articles for scientists, physicians, health care workers, libraries, students, researchers, academic institutions, companies, and patients and consumers.

Broad dissemination of research results is fundamental to the advancement of knowledge. For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible. Yet, too often, research results are not available to researchers, scientists, or members of the public. We believe Congress can and must act to ensure that all potential users have free and timely access on the Internet to peer-reviewed federal research findings. This ultimately magnifies the public benefits of research by promoting progress, enhancing economic growth, and improving the public welfare. . . .

The open availability of federally funded research for broad public use in open online archives is a crucial building block in laying a strong national foundation to support accelerated discovery and innovation. It encourages broader participation in the scientific process by providing equitable access to high-quality research results to researchers at higher education institutions of all kinds – from research-intensive universities to community colleges alike. It can empower more members of the public to become engaged in citizen science efforts in areas that pique their imagination. It will equip entrepreneurs and small business owners with the very latest research developments, allowing them to more effectively compete in the development of new technologies and innovations. Open availability of this research will expand the worldwide visibility of the research conducted in the U.S. and increase the impact of our collective investment in research. . . .
The full text of the letter with the names of the forty-one US and foreign Nobel laureates is available here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

University Public-Access Mandates Are Good for Science

David Shulenburger in an article (10 November, 2009) in PLoS Biology argues that universities mandating open access to the scholarly research by their faculty is good for science. His conclusion :
. . . . As a careful observer of scholarly communications, I'm convinced that the public goods aspect of faculty research will ultimately compel public access to it. Public goods have the characteristic that use of them by one individual does not diminish their value to others. In fact, the knowledge presented through scholarship generally becomes more valuable as it is shared more widely and becomes a building block upon which further scientific advances may occur.

Faculty members can accelerate the process. We can persuade colleagues on our own campuses to pass public-access mandates like those at Harvard, MIT, and Kansas. We can speed up what otherwise might be a 20-year process and make it happen in three or four. We can urge Congress to expand the NIH mandate to all federal funding agencies . We can convince the less-enlightened scholarly societies that representing our disciplines means working for public access to scholarship rather than opposing it.

It is impossible to know how much more rapidly scientific progress will occur if all the scholarly literature becomes accessible. What we each know is the frustrations we've experienced in our own research because of access difficulties. It is within the power of the university faculty in this country to remove these roadblocks. Supporting adoption of a public-access deposit mandate on your campus is an effort most worthy of the involvement of dedicated scientists.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Call for Copyright Rebellion

In Inside Higher Education (10/06/2009) Steve Kolowich reports on the 5th November talk given by Lawrence Lessig at the 2009 Educause Conference. Excerpts:
The manner in which copyright law is being applied to academe in the digital age is destructive to the advancement of human knowledge and culture, and higher education is doing nothing about it.

That is what Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard University law professor and renowned open-access advocate, told a theater of higher ed technologists Thursday at the 2009 Educause Conference here. In his talk, Lessig described how digital and Web technology has exploded the conditions under which copyright law had been written. . . .

Copyright law was originally intended to protect those who create for profit (Lessig used the example of recording artist Britney Spears). But academics also create original works, he said, and they are — or should be — motivated by a desire to advance human knowledge, not line their pockets. Therefore, sealing their work behind copyright barriers does no social good. . . .

Lessig cited several examples of how copyright law in academe has hampered the pursuit of knowledge: neurologists who were unable to aggregate data for a large-scale brain-mapping project due to copyright restrictions; filmmakers who faced staggering costs re-clearing copyrights on images they used in a civil-rights documentary series when they wanted to release it on DVD. He even recounted a recent incident in which he had been using a medical information Web site to try to diagnose his ill daughter, when he noticed a note that said portions of an article he was reading had been redacted under copyright law. . . .

Academics — presumably stakeholders in the effort to advance knowledge — have been uncharacteristically and disturbingly silent on the copyright “insanity” that has befallen the information trade, Lessig said. . . .

The video of Prof. Lessig's lecture is available at (one needs to download Silverlight Player: Thanks to Mark Caprio for alerting me about the video.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Bibliotheca Alexandrina: A Digital Revival"

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is undertaking major interesting and important projects. See the article Bibliotheca Alexandrina: A Digital Revival in the Nov/Dec, 2009 issue of EDUCAUSE Review.

Latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter

The November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter has just been posted.