Friday, December 23, 2011

MIT launches online learning initiative: MITx

For years Massachusetts Institute of Technology has provided its OpenCourseWare program which offers over 2,000 free online courses. MIT has now announced a new online learning program, MITx, that will:
  • organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.
Read the rest of the 19 Dec, 2011 press release.

Click here for an overview by Steve Kolowich of this MITx program in Inside Higher Education.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Europeana Adds its 20 Millionth Item

Europeana recently added its 20 millionth item, Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath. Launched with 2,000,000 items in 2008 Europeana has now increased its content by a factor of ten.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Google Books is at heart a catalogue of errors"

Geoffrey Nunberg, University of California, Berkeley, is highly critical of what he believes are the widespread inaccuracies of Google Books according to an article in Times Higher Education:
Two years ago, Google Books was becoming the world's largest digital library and, with an effective monopoly, seemed "almost certain to be the last one".

The tragedy for scholars was that Google Books' metadata - which allow users to search the catalogue - were "a mishmash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess".

Such was the argument made in 2009 by Geoffrey Nunberg, adjunct full professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley.

He went on to have a good deal of fun with the many strange anomalies: 115 hits for Greta Garbo and 325 for Woody Allen in books said to date from before they were born; editions of Jane Eyre classified under history or antiques and collectibles; Sigmund Freud listed as an author of a guide to an internet interface.

There was even a case of an 1890 guidebook assigned to 1774 because it happened to open with an advertisement for a shirt manufacturer founded in that year.

All this made Google Books' search facility a very dangerous tool for serious researchers looking to track, for example, the way a particular word has changed its meaning over time.

In response to Professor Nunberg's critique, Google offered to correct any errors that were brought to its attention. But while this process has ironed out specific glitches in the intervening years, Professor Nunberg does not believe it has made a fundamental difference.

"The changes are a drop in a greatly enlarged ocean," he said, adding that the flaws in Google's metadata remain "a big systematic structural problem".

In the course of his research alone, he has continued to come across glaring errors similar to those he flagged up two years ago.

While working on a history of swearing, for example, Professor Nunberg did searches for the word "asshole". Google Books' search facility promptly provided much useful material.

But what is obviously a contemporary novel was listed as the complete works of the French composers Jean-Philippe Rameau and Camille Saint-Saëns. A novel by Arthur Hailey was catalogued as A Survey of American Chemistry, and a book about tattooing as Tudor Historical Thought.

A colleague of Professor Nunberg who was researching the history of alcohol searched for a kind of port known as a "30-year-old tawny" and was presented with a detailed discussion of the subject in a volume Google Books showed as bearing the title How to Play Better Soccer. There were also cases of Google technicians who had managed to scan in images of their fingers rather than the relevant pages of text. Among more general concerns, periodicals were often dated by their first issue.

Professor Nunberg said he could not understand why Google scans in copies of books from major research libraries, where the details tend to be recorded correctly, and then turns for its metadata to far less reliable sources.

To patch up the huge problems would now require substantial time and resources. These were unlikely to be forthcoming, Professor Nunberg said, because, "like most high-tech companies, Google puts a much higher premium on innovation than maintenance. They aren't good at the punctilious, anal-retentive sort of work librarians are used to."

Friday, December 9, 2011

UK takes steps to make publicly funded research open

Results of publicly funded research will be open access – science minister

From The Guardian

New policy announced by David Willetts to make research freely available challenges business models of academic publishers

The government has signalled a revolution in scientific publishing by throwing its weight behind the idea that all publicly funded scientific research must be published in open-access journals.

The policy is in the government document Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth published on Monday, which also includes plans for a series of cash prizes for teams to solve specific scientific challenges and a new £75m fund for small businesses to develop their ideas into commercial products.

The commitment to making publicly funded research free to access is a direct challenge to the business models of the big academic publishing companies, which are the gatekeepers for the majority of high-quality scientific research. Previous attempts by open access publishers to break this stranglehold over the dissemination of scientific results have largely failed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Positive Self-Archiving Stats

Drawing from policies of 19,000 journals, Sherpa/RoMEO statistics show:

87% of journals allow some form of immediate self-archiving by authors

60% of journals allow immediate self-archiving of peer reviewed articles (the postprint, peer-reviewed version)

94% allow self-archiving after embargo periods have expired and restrictions met

Only 5% allow no self-archiving at all!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Open Access Journals from Society Publishers

The latest issue of Peter Suber's Open Access Newsletter is now available. Particularly interesting is his feature on open access journals from society publishers. His list shows 530 societies publishing 616 full OA journals.
How many scholarly societies publish OA journals, and how many OA journals do they publish? Four years ago (November 2007), Caroline Sutton and I released the first edition of our inventory answering those questions, and today we release the second edition.

Cutting to the chase: Our 2007 list turned up 425 societies publishing 450 full or non-hybrid OA journals. Our 2011 list shows 530 societies publishing 616 full OA journals.

We're sure we overlooked some society OA journals in 2007 and we're sure we're still overlooking some today. If it weren't for that, we could say that the number of societies publishing OA journals grew by 25% in the last four years, and the number of their OA journals by 37%. Nevertheless it's hard to avoid the conclusion that both numbers are growing significantly.

The second edition of the list is a Google spreadsheet under a CC-BY license. (make sure to select "List" at bottom of spreadsheet).

. . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quietly, Google Puts History Online

There's an interesting article by Eric Pfanner in the New York Times discussing Google's initiatives in digitizing artifacts from museums, archives etc. and making them freely available globally to any one with internet access. Pfanner mentions a number of projects digitized by Google, all of which have seen great increases in the number of virtual visitors. He also considers the criticism that is often directed at nonprofit cultural institutions for working so closely with such a vast corporate company like Google.

Beginning of article:

PARIS — When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, reopened last year after an extensive renovation, it attracted a million visitors in the first 12 months. When the museum opened an enhanced Web site with newly digitized versions of the scrolls in September, it drew a million virtual visitors in three and a half days.

The scrolls, scanned with ultrahigh-resolution imaging technology, have been viewed on the Web from 210 countries — including some, like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, that provide few real-world visitors to the Israel Museum.

“This is taking the material to an amazing range of audiences,” said James S. Snyder, the museum’s director. “There’s no way we would have had the technical capability to do this on our own.”

The digitization of the scrolls was done by Google under a new initiative aimed at demonstrating that the Internet giant’s understanding of culture extends beyond the corporate kind. The Google Cultural Institute plans to make artifacts like the scrolls — from museums, archives, universities and other collections around the world — accessible to any Internet user. . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Boston Library Consortium endorses the Berlin Declaration

The Directors of the member libraries of the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) have unanimously agreed to endorse the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. The BLC's name will be added to the list of organizations that have signed the Declaration.

More about the Berlin Declaration is available at

Friday, November 4, 2011

ARL Endorses the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Press release from the Association of Research Libraries:
Washington, DC—On November 1, 2011, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) joined over 300 organizations and institutions to endorse the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

In a letter to Dr. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society, Winston Tabb, ARL President and Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums at the Johns Hopkins University, wrote, “The Association of Research Libraries has been a longtime and consistent supporter of Open Access and has worked hard to advance its principles internationally. During the October 2011 meeting of the Board of Directors a decision was taken to become a signatory to the Berlin Declaration. I am pleased to extend our endorsement of the Declaration and join the growing number of signatories from North America.”

The Berlin Declaration was drafted by the Max Planck Society to, in part, “promote the Internet as a functional instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human reflection and to specify measures which research policy makers, research institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives, and museums need to consider.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

A National Digital Public Library Begins to Take Shape

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a recent meeting about the proposed Digital Public Library of America:
"The Digital Public Library of America doesn't exist yet, but it's closer to becoming a reality.

At an energized meeting held here at the National Archives on Friday, representatives from top cultural institutions and public and research libraries expressed robust support for the proposed library, which would create a portal to allow the public to get easy online access to collections held at many different institutions.

Two foundations said they would together give $5-million in grant money to help get it up and running by April 2013. A major European digital library announced it will work with its planned American counterpart to make their technical structures compatible. And nine technology teams showcased online frameworks they built for a "beta sprint" contest to develop ideas for the technical framework the library will require. . . ."
The complete article

Saturday, October 22, 2011

DPLA 's First Plenary

The Digital Public Library of America's first plenary session kicked off with the announcement of $5 million in funding from the Sloan Foundation and the Arcadia Fund.
More on the plenary meeting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Robert Darnton on Books, eBooks, Google Books, and the Digital Public Library of America

In a very interesting video interview Robert Darnton, historian and director of the university library at Harvard, talks about books, ebooks, the Google Books settlement, the Digital Public Library of America, and the future of libraries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ACRL Signs Berlin Declaration on Open Access

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently joined the growing ranks of signatories to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities. ACRL encourages college and research libraries, as well as other campus groups, to follow suit.

The declaration builds on the significant progress of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, calling for Open Access to knowledge in the humanities as well as in the sciences. It also moves beyond the scope of primary literature, indicating, “Open access contributions include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.”

Signatories commit to the principle of Open Access as well as to pursuing solutions that advance the Internet “as an emerging functional medium for distributing knowledge.”

Learn more about the Berlin Declaration.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Europe’s national librarians support opening up their data via CC0

Following the exciting news of Europeana’s new data exchange agreement, which authorizes Europeana to release the metadata for millions of cultural works into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication, the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) voted to support the agreement in a meeting last week at the Royal Library of Denmark. CENL represents Europe’s national libraries and “is responsible for the massive collection of publications that represent the accumulated knowledge of Europe.”

From the press release,

“It means that the datasets describing all the millions of books and texts ever published in Europe – the title, author, date, imprint, place of publication and so on, which exists in the vast library catalogues of Europe – will become increasingly accessible for anybody to re-use for whatever purpose they want. . . ."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Report: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories

The PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) Behavioural Research group from the Department of Information Science & LISU, Loughborough University, has completed its study: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories.

The Executive Summary:
The Behavioural research project is one of three independent research projects commissioned and managed by PEER as part of the PEER Observatory. The aim of the Behavioural research project was to address the role of stage-two manuscript repositories in the scholarly and scientific communication system by exploring perceptions, motivations and behaviours of authors and readers. The research was carried out between April 2009 and August 2011 by the Department of Information Science and LISU at Loughborough University, UK.

Key conclusions:
  • Over the period of Phases 1 and 2 of the Behavioural research project the increase in the number of researchers who reported placing a version of their journal article(s) into an Open Access Repository was negligible.
  • Researchers who associated Open Access with ‘self-archiving’ were in the minority.
  • Open Access is more likely to be associated with ‘self-archiving’ (Green Road) by researchers in the Physical sciences & mathematics and the Social sciences, humanities & arts, than those in the Life sciences and the Medical sciences who are more likely to associate Open Access with Open Access Journals (Gold Road).
  • There is anecdotal evidence that some researchers consider making journal articles accessible via Open Access to be beyond their remit.
  • Authors tend to be favourable to Open Access and receptive to the benefits of self-archiving in terms of greater readership and wider dissemination of their research, with the caveat that self-archiving does not compromise the pivotal role of the published journal article.
  • Readers have concerns about the authority of article content and the extent to which it can be cited when the version they have accessed is not the published final version. These concerns are more prevalent where the purpose of reading is to produce a published journal article, and are perceived as less of an issue for other types of reading purpose.
  • Academic researchers have a conservative set of attitudes, perceptions and behaviours towards the scholarly communication system and do not desire fundamental changes in the way research is currently disseminated and published.
  • Open Access Repositories are perceived by researchers as complementary to, rather than replacing, current forums for disseminating and publishing research.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Streaming video decision

From the Chronicle of Higher Education
Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against UCLA Over Use of Streaming Video
October 4, 2011, 8:18 pm

By Marc Parry

A judge dismissed a lawsuit on Monday that had accused the University of California at Los Angeles of copyright infringement for streaming videos online. One copyright expert thinks the UCLA decision increases the chance that the HathiTrust digital-library consortium will prevail in its effort to fight off a separate copyright lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild over the digitization of books from university libraries.

The case was dismissed largely on the sovereign immunity issue (which does not apply to private universities), and the lack of standing by plaintiffs, who were not copyright holders. This may be a hopeful sign for those watching the HathiTrust orphan rights case.

See Kevin Smith's discussion of the limited applicability of this case.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Princeton Goes Open Access!

Following in the footsteps of a number of other prestigious universities, e.g. Harvard and MIT, Princeton University has adopted an open access policy that requires its researchers not to hand over to publishers their copyright of scholarly articles. However, the policy does specify that a waiver may be granted in certain cases.

More information:
. . . . The new rule is part of an Open Access policy aimed at broadening the reach of their scholarly work and encouraging publishers to adjust standard contracts that commonly require exclusive copyright as a condition of publication.

Universities pay millions of dollars a year for academic journal subscriptions. People without subscriptions, which can cost up to $25,000 a year for some journals or hundreds of dollars for a single issue, are often prevented from reading taxpayer funded research. Individual articles are also commonly locked behind pay walls.

Researchers and peer reviewers are not paid for their work but academic publishers have said such a business model is required to maintain quality.

At a September 19 meeting, Princeton’s Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy adopted a new open access policy that gives the university the “nonexclusive right to make available copies of scholarly articles written by its faculty, unless a professor specifically requests a waiver for particular articles.”

“The University authorizes professors to post copies of their articles on their own web sites or on University web sites, or in other not-for-a-fee venues,” the policy said.

“The main effect of this new policy is to prevent them from giving away all their rights when they publish in a journal.” . . . .

Friday, September 23, 2011

Internet Ruffles Pricey Scholarly Journals

D. D. Guttenplan, in an 18th September, 2011 article in The New York Times (Europe) considers the growth of open access journals and the various reactions to them.

The opening paragraphs:
LONDON — After decades of healthy profits, the scholarly publishing industry now finds itself in the throes of a revolt led by the most unlikely campus revolutionaries: the librarians.

Universities from Britain to California are refusing to renew their expensive subscriptions, turning instead to “open access” publishing, an arrangement whereby material is made available free on the Internet with few or no restrictions except for the obligation to cite it.

Paul Ayris, director of library services at University College London, describes the revolt’s goal as “the dream of every researcher — from the desktop and at the end of an Internet connection, to be able to have the world’s literature at your fingertips.”

For the moment, that dream is still a long way off. But with British universities already spending 65 percent of their library acquisition budgets on periodicals — up from 50 percent 10 years ago — and university funding cut back, the pressure for change is mounting. . . .

7000 Journals now in DOAJ

There are now more than 7000 journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. 45% of the journals, more than 600,000, are searchable at the article level. See the press release.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Public Availability of Published Research Data in High-Impact Journals

In a recent PLoSONE article, "Public Availability of Published Research Data in High-Impact Journals", the authors assess the current status of making research data available in highly-cited journals across the scientific literature. Their general conclusion is that much more needs to be done to make such data available.

There is increasing interest to make primary data from published research publicly available. We aimed to assess the current status of making research data available in highly-cited journals across the scientific literature.

Methods and Results
We reviewed the first 10 original research papers of 2009 published in the 50 original research journals with the highest impact factor. For each journal we documented the policies related to public availability and sharing of data. Of the 50 journals, 44 (88%) had a statement in their instructions to authors related to public availability and sharing of data. However, there was wide variation in journal requirements, ranging from requiring the sharing of all primary data related to the research to just including a statement in the published manuscript that data can be available on request. Of the 500 assessed papers, 149 (30%) were not subject to any data availability policy. Of the remaining 351 papers that were covered by some data availability policy, 208 papers (59%) did not fully adhere to the data availability instructions of the journals they were published in, most commonly (73%) by not publicly depositing microarray data. The other 143 papers that adhered to the data availability instructions did so by publicly depositing only the specific data type as required, making a statement of willingness to share, or actually sharing all the primary data. Overall, only 47 papers (9%) deposited full primary raw data online. None of the 149 papers not subject to data availability policies made their full primary data publicly available.

A substantial proportion of original research papers published in high-impact journals are either not subject to any data availability policies, or do not adhere to the data availability instructions in their respective journals. This empiric evaluation highlights opportunities for improvement.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All About Orphans

Those of you who follow Scholarly Communication issues closely know that the Author's Guild has filed suit against HathiTrust and others over the Orphan Works Project. Here is a selection items to read to better understand the issues:

From the New York Times: Lawsuit Seeks the Removal of a Digital Book Collection

From James Grimmelman in his blog, the Laboratorium: The Orphan Wars

From Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications @Duke: Why is adopting orphans controversial?
And his follow-up post today: Stop the internet, we want to get off!

And, finally: ARL's Resource Packet on the issues.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in World

JSTOR is making freely available to anyone throughout the world a vast amount of journal content. This content, almost 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals, consists of articles published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere. All this material, representing approximately 6% of the total content on JSTOR, may be downloaded.

A quick video tutorial about how to access this content is available.

See JSTOR's 7th September, 2011 Press Release.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions

"The University of Kansas (KU), which in June 2009 became the first U.S. public university to adopt an open access (OA) policy regarding scholarly research in peer-reviewed journals, recently announced that it had spearheaded the formation of a 22-member Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI). The coalition includes Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

According to the announcement, COAPI will "collaborate and share [OA] implementation strategies," and advocate nationally for OA institutions. Advocacy will be aimed at bringing attention to OA and issues that could weaken OA policies, such as OA waivers required by some publishers...."


Friday, September 2, 2011

Academic Publishers Make Murdoch look like a Socialist

George Monbiot has an excellent article in The Guardian: "Academic Publishers make Murdoch look like a Socialist".

In it Monbiot castigates the outrageous profits earned by certain academic publishers, arguing that exorbitant journal costs result in less and less accessibility to the results of research, much of which the public has paid for though taxes.
. . . . What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning. . . .

The knowledge monopoly is as unwarranted and anachronistic as the corn laws. Let's throw off these parasitic overlords and liberate the research that belongs to us. . . .
Though most librarians and many faculty are aware of the article's points, the great utility of the article is that it's published in an important newspaper with a broad readership. The message is being spread slowly but, one hopes, surely. [Thanks to Robert Stanton, English Dept., for alerting me to this piece]

Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Free Research-Sharing Site, arXiv, Turns 20 With an Uncertain Future

The electronic disciplinary repository turns 20 years old this month. arXiv, one of the earliest and most successful efforts of the Open Access movement, is a pre-print repository serving the physical sciences, math, astronomy, computer science, quantitative biology and statistics. Boston College as a supporting institution provides financial help to arXiv.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a short piece celebrating arXiv's 20th birthday. Excerpts:
. . . . ArXiv, back in 1991 and still today, focuses on physics. “The original plan was for roughly 100 full-text article submissions each year,” writes Mr. Ginsparg, who works at Cornell University. Today the site gets about 75,000 of these “preprints” every year, and it serves up about one million full-text downloads to about 400,000 users every week. It holds roughly 700,000 texts. . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hirtle on HathiTrust and orphan works

In this interesting interview, Peter Hirtle, who wrote the book on Copyright and Cultural Institutions, talks about HathiTrust and the work involved in finding copyright holders of orphan works.

Available at

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shieber on Guerrilla Open Access

Stuart Shieber posted a very sensible comment on the Aaron Swartz JSTOR dowloading case.
His fear is that Swartz's actions will provide more ammunition to open access opponents:
Finally, and most importantly, this kind of action is ineffective. As Peter Suber predicted in a trenchant post that we can now see as prescient, it merely has the effect of tying the legitimate, sensible, economically rational, and academically preferable approach of open access to memes of copyright violation, illegality, and naiveté. There are already sufficient attempts to inappropriately perform this kind of tying; we needn’t provide further ammunition. Unfortunate but completely predictable statements like “It is disappointing to see advocates of OA treat this person as some kind of hero.” tar those who pursue open access with the immorality and illegality that self-proclaimed guerrillas exhibit. In so doing, guerrilla OA is not only ineffective, but counterproductive.

Note -- the Suber post begins with a guerrilla manifesto attributed to Swartz -- but Suber goes on to take issue with the illegal acts advocated.
I have three basic reasons: (1) OA is already lawful and doesn't require the reform or violation of copyright law, even if it could leap forward with the right reforms. (2) OA activists will never match the publishing industry's funds for litigation. (3) One of the most persistent and harmful misunderstandings of OA is that it violates copyright law. We've come a long way in educating policy-makers out of that misunderstanding. But the Orwellian Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (a.k.a. Conyers bill) is just one recent piece of evidence that we still have a lot of educating to do and that publishers can still make a lot of hay from the misunderstandings which remain. A campaign to give the publishing lobby its first valid evidence that OA violates copyright is the last thing we need.

Friday, July 29, 2011

OpenDOAR reaches its 2000th Repository

Sherpa's OpenDOAR, a directory of academic open access repositories throughout the world, recently added its 2000th repository entry. The directory lists repositories and allows breakdown and selection by a variety of criteria - see the Find page - which can also be viewed as statistical charts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ad*Access -- Over 7,000 Digitized Ads, 1911-1955

Duke University's site Ad*Access is a particularly interesting digitization project. It provides access to over 7,000 U.S. and Canadian advertisements dating from 1911 to 1955. Five product categories are included - Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television, Transportation, and World War II propaganda. Students very frequently look for ads that they can use in their research papers. While more contemporary ones are fairly readily available from a variety of sources, older ones are often more difficult to locate. However, Ad*Access should be of major help in identifying ads from the first half of the 20th century.

The ads are free to be used for research, teaching, and private study. "For these purposes under Fair Use, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) materials from this web site without prior permission, on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies." More information about Ad*Access and copyright may be found at

Friday, July 15, 2011

Visualising China: China 1850-1950, An Interactive Resource

The recently launched Visualising China project has 8,000 rare photographs of China and Chinese life from the period 1850 to 1950. The site "allows access to many previously unseen albums, envelopes and private collections and also major collections such as Historical Photographs of China, the Sir Robert Hart Collection and Joseph Needham's Photographs of Wartime China. These have many sub-collections and albums."

For more about the Visualising China project see

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Royal Society has announced the launch of Open Biology, a new open access journal covering biology at the molecular and cellular level. "This selective, online Royal Society journal will publish original, high quality, peer-reviewed research in cell biology; developmental and structural biology; molecular biology; biochemistry; neuroscience; immunology; microbiology; and genetics. The criteria for acceptance will be scientific excellence, importance and originality."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Digital Public Library of America: Updates

On 16 June Paula J. Hane provided in Information Today an update on the Digital Public Library of America. Yesterday John Palfrey, the vice dean for library and information resources at Harvard Law School, the co-director of the Berkman Center and Chair of the DPLA, provided a YouTube video update on the DPLA:

Monday, June 27, 2011

The British Library and Google to make 250,000 books available to all

The British Library (BL) recently announced a collaboration with Google to digitize 250,000 books periodicals, and pamphlets from 1700 to 1870. The British Library will select the works while Google will do the actual digitization (as well as pay for the digitization). The digitized books will be freely available through both the BL's and Google's own websites.

From the press release:
. . . . It will include material in a variety of major European languages, and will focus on books that are not yet freely available in digital form online.

The first works to be digitised will range from feminist pamphlets about Queen Marie-Antoinette (1791), to the invention of the first combustion engine-driven submarine (1858), and an account of a stuffed Hippopotamus owned by the Prince of Orange (1775).

Once digitised, these unique items will be available for full text search, download and reading through Google Books, as well as being searchable through the Library’s website and stored in perpetuity within the Library’s digital archive.

Researchers, students and other users of the Library will be able to view historical items from anywhere in the world as well as copy, share and manipulate text for non-commercial purposes. . . .

It is also planned to make the works available via Europeana (, the European Digital Library.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Charles Darwin's Library

Charles Darwin’s Library is a digital edition of the books comprising Darwin's personal library.

From the site's History & Scope section:
. . . . the library of Charles Darwin is more than the collection of the works he owned at his death. As Francis already appreciated in 1908, ‘The chief interest of the Darwin books lies in the pencil notes scribbled on their pages, or written on scraps of paper and pinned to the last page.’2 Darwin did read both systematically and with great intensity. He read to gather evidence, to explore and define the research possibilities of his evolutionary ideas, and to gauge reactions to his own publications. In fact, reading was a major tool in Darwin’s scientific practice. Thus what our digital reconstruction of the Darwin Library delivers is the ability to retrace and reduplicate Darwin’s reading of a wealth of materials.

The portion of the Darwin Library now published at the Biodiversity Heritage Library constitutes Phase 1 of a collaborative project to digitise the Darwin Library works and to provide transcriptions of Darwin’s marginalia side by side with the pages he marked. Phase 1 presents images and marginalia for 330 books, represents 22% of the total 1480 Darwin Library book titles. But, more significantly, these 330 titles represent 44% of the 743 Darwin books that bear his annotations or marks. The latter comprise 28951 annotated and marked book pages and 1624 attached note slips. Plans for further phases to complete digital publication of the remainder of the Darwin Library are now under consideration.
Also useful to the student of Darwin is another open access site: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Digital Public Library of America

The Berkman Center has an informative wiki explaining and tracking the project they are spearheading to create a Digital Public Library of America.
This is a very exciting and ambitious project -- well worth following and participating in.

The Berkman Center will convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders to define the scope, architecture, costs, and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America. This initiative was launched in December 2010 with generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation....

In March, 2011, the Steering Committee drafted a Concept Note to describe the initiative, on which they seek comment.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Copyright Rebellion

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education contains a series of four articles about scholars pushing back against copyright restrictions.
The article entitled The Million Book Lockup is a very good explanation of the Orphan Works problem. These issues are very familiar to those working on digitization projects.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wiley Launches New OA Journal Program

Wiley has just announced a new open access journal program, the launch of which will take place throughout 2011, with calls for submissions occurring soon.

Excerpts from the Press Release:
. . . . The first journals will launch shortly, publishing primary peer-reviewed research in a range of broad-based subject disciplines in the life and biomedical sciences, including neuroscience, microbiology, ecology and evolution.

Wiley Open Access will provide authors wishing to publish their research outcomes in an open access journal with a range of new high quality publications which meet the requirements of funding organizations and institutions where these apply. . . .

A publication fee will be payable by authors on acceptance of their articles. Wiley will introduce a range of new payment schemes to enable academic and research institutions, funders, societies, and corporations to actively support their researchers and members who wish to publish in Wiley Open Access journals. . . .

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Orphan Works

Two interesting developments regarding orphan works in the aftermath of the latest Google Books ruling:
The University of Michigan is undertaking a project to identify copyright owners of "orphan works".
What Michigan is doing is “detective work,” as Ms. Levine puts it. She has students probing in-copyright works from 1923 to 1963. They’re trying to determine ownership and, in the event that isn’t possible, documenting the dead ends that led them to conclude a work is orphaned.

In addition, the Library Copyright Alliance, issued a joint statement (ALA, ACRL, and ARL) indicating that a legislative solution to the orphan works issues may not be possible, and that recent rulings indicate that mass digitization projects may be better served by relying on fair use.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Digital Images of Yale’s Vast Cultural Collections Now Available for Free

Yale University has announced a new open access policy whereby it will allow free access to online images of a very large number of objects from Yale's museums, archives, and libraries. Already more than 250,000 images are available through Yale's Cross Collection Discovery catalog. Click for a slide show of some digitized images from the collection.

Excerpt from the Yale Daily Bulletin (10 May, 2011):
The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale's vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.

As works in these collections become digitized, the museums and libraries will make those images that are in the public domain freely accessible. In a departure from established convention, no license will be required for the transmission of the images and no limitations will be imposed on their use. The result is that scholars, artists, students, and citizens the world over will be able to use these collections for study, publication, teaching and inspiration.

"With this pioneering open access policy, Yale reminds us that with any great academic collection comes a great responsibility: to share our cultural heritage openly in order to advance scholarship not only on campus but around the world. Yale has set a new standard by which we should measure our colleges' and universities' commitment to scholarship," noted Max Marmor, president of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, which encourages teaching, learning and scholarship in the history of art.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jewish News Archive Launches Online Archive with 250,000 Articles

On 5 May the JTA Jewish News Archive announced the launching of a digital archive containing 250,000 articles dating from 1923. The archive is searchable and free for everyone to use.
Highlights of the archive include extensive reporting from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s —including perhaps the first article on what has become known as the Babi Yar massacre —JTA’s reportage on the founding of the State of Israel, close and sustained coverage of the Soviet Jewry movement, and decades of articles chronicling the changing roles and responsibilities of Jewish women.

“The JTA Jewish News Archive has the potential to spark an interest in the past that will transform the future,” said Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. . . .

“There was and still is a lot of conventional wisdom that Americans didn’t know about the Holocaust while it was happening, and couldn’t have known about the Holocaust while it was happening,” said Northeastern University journalism professor Laurel Leff. “One of the values of this archive is that people can actually look at the bulletins that JTA sent out during this period and see what information was, in fact, available.”

The archive was created with the help of Digital Divide Data, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs to disadvantaged youth in Southeast Asia. Young Cambodians digitized JTA’s files, thereby completing a circle — a vital journalistic record of the Holocaust is being preserved by the next generation in a country racked by its own genocide. . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

MLA Establishes Office of Scholarly Communication

The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that the the Modern Language Association has established a new office of scholarly communication. It is likely that a primary concern of the office will be the promotion of digital scholarship among MLA members.
The Modern Language Association has created an office of scholarly communication and named a well-regarded digital-humanities scholar to lead it, the group announced on Friday. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a professor of media studies at Pomona College and co-founder of MediaCommons, a digital scholarly network, will lead the new office. She will oversee the group’s book-publishing unit and “a range of activities intended to promote scholarship among our members and within the larger academic community,” the association said. Rosemary G. Feal, the association’s director, told The Chronicle in an interview on Thursday that the announcement was another sign that the MLA was “devoting more effort to thinking as an organization about the digital humanities” and about how to take advantage of Web-based publishing and networking opportunities.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Periodicals Price Survey 2011: Under Pressure, Times Are Changing

Library Journal has just published its annual Periodicals Price Survey. The news is not good as the trend for prices is tending decisively upwards. Extracts:
There’s no way to sugarcoat the impact higher serials prices have on the information marketplace, or the dire state of funding for libraries. Libraries are no longer in a position of having to cut low-use journals in order to make room for high-use ones; instead, they are now being forced to cancel heavily used, even essential subscriptions, much to the dismay of their patrons. The economy still drives any discussion of serials pricing, and it remains a very ugly story.

In September 2010, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that economic indicators showed that the recession hit its trough and began recovery in June 2009. But while this may be true technically based on economic data, the recovery’s effects remain very difficult for either libraries or their patrons to detect. Educational systems, especially higher education, are easy targets when funding gets tight and states’ budgets are far from flush. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report in 2010 that had some alarming news: “Counting both initial and mid-year shortfalls, 48 states have addressed or still face such shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2010, totaling $193 billion or 28 percent of state budgets—the largest gaps on record.”

There is more bad news coming from the federal level, as 2012 budgets are hit hard without any federal stimulus funding to fill the gaps, as had been the case in previous years. . . . .

Evolve or die?
We are going to evolve. As has been well documented, the library world was already suffering from funding and technological pressure before the recession officially began in December 2007. In the five years since, the pressure and pace of disruptive change have only accelerated. In order to survive the next five years, the library community will have to focus on the much more difficult task of finding new opportunities. Libraries, publishers, and vendors will all shed some legacy processes; information purchasing patterns will change, leading inevitably to new pricing models. Technology will continue its march forward. The library landscape of 2016 will be very different from today’s.
Click Periodicals Price Survey 2011: Under Pressure, Times Are Changing for the full report.

It is also very likely that Open Access will play an ever increasing role in journal publication.