Why is Science Behind a Paywall?
We are in the middle of the most dramatic and significant change in publishing since the proliferation of the printing press. One area that has been resistant to change has been peer-reviewed scientific publishing. Part of this resistance has been tradition (“if it ain’t broke…”), but some of it has been motivated by maintaining profits.
The exploration of new media technologies, and new ways to encourage the scientific process (and improve the error rate of research) is needed, and will benefit all involved. Well, perhaps not the publishers that put profit ahead of everything else, but they have ample opportunity to examine their models and make the changes that will allow them to stay relevant.
Thanks to Jamie Ashworth for pointing out this article!
I stumbled upon this typeface nearly eight months ago, and thought that I had written about it, but after recommending it for the 3rd or 4th time, I realized that I had failed to actually create the post.
OpenDyslexic is a typeface that is specifically designed to be more usable for readers with, you guessed it, dyslexia. The characters are weighted (the lines are made thicker) on the lower portion of the letter, reducing the tendency by the dyslectic reader to mentally rotate the letter.
OpenDyslexic is not the first font designed this way, but it is the first open source, free typeface developed developed for dyslexia. It didn’t start out this way, and the story of how the murky legal landscape surrounding fonts and typefaces makes for an interesting read.
Here is a sample of the typeface:
BeerBrarian has a post which explores the result of a hypothetical 100% open access world:
As a thought experiment, let’s say we “win.” Professional and academic associations go open access, as much of physics has. The Directory of Open Access Journals is able to capture the far majority of these newly free works, and in turn these are snapped up by library catalogs thanks to link resolvers and discovery services. The same happens with the Directory of Open Access Books with regards to chapters in edited volumes.
But there’s a catch: DOAJ’s search function is not, to put it politely, robust. And there’s a larger problem behind search functionality thanks to incomplete metadata. Link resolvers and discovery services that pull from that search, culling that metadata, will lead to frustrated end users who cannot access and discover what they’re looking for.
Where BeerBrarian takes the argument is fairly close to where I would take it as well: vendors and other access providers would compete for our business through ease of use, comprehensive access, and other service-oriented activities.
I am not a fan of the business model of “if we have exclusive control to a resource, they have to pay us what we can get away with”. This creates disincentives for improvements (why spend money and resources to improve service if you don’t really need to?) and leads to monopolistic thinking, which is a long-term detriment in an information economy.
So what would an open access world be like? We would have more resources like Google Scholar, and the costs for accessing information would be far less than they are today – more because of increased competition for services and fewer monopolies on information itself.
Two related bits of news in the world of libraries:
Innovative Interfaces (III) and SkyRiver, companies that had close ties, and who had joined together to sue OCLC in 2010, have merged.
Their first combined action? They dropped their lawsuit against OCLC.
OCLC also issued a press release.
Although I understand fully that lawsuits are rarely about the big issues, I had hoped that this one would spark a discussion about OCLC’s role in the world of libraries.
Marshall Breeding’s excellent repository of information about the case: SkyRiver vs. OCLC.
This is the way the lawsuit ends, not with a bang… but a merger….
Are Library Books on Borrowed Time? is a short article in Financial Times that covers what many in libraries have recognized for some time: we are in the midst of a transition between paper books and some combination of e-books and paper, and the evolution of libraries as an environment.
The focus of the article is on the decisions being made by the New York Public Library.
The media coverage, rightly so, emphasizes the tremendous impact that N. Joseph Woodland’s creation had on retail sales and inventory. Library folk should take a moment and reflect on how much this one technological achievement as affected our work.
OCLC has endorsed the use of the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY) for library catalog records.
This is a great step forward, as it allows a clear path for use and re-use of library records without fear of a lengthy and costly legal defense over ownership of records.
This solution is a compromise, in the opinion of this blogger, in that the data itself cannot be owned or licensed, nor could OCLC be able to claim to be the original creator of
the data a great majority of the records. It does, however, provides a path forward that allows everyone to benefit, and that should be why organizations such as OCLC exist in the first place.
found via Becky Yoose’s Twitter feed
Guess which field made Forbes #1 Worst Master’s Degree in terms of mid-career pay and job availability…
I’ve had some differences of opinion with Will Manley over the years, most specifically his seeming distain for Movers & Shakers, but his current column regarding the reduced impact of the Masters of Library Science degree hits fairly close to the mark.
In general, the Masters degreed librarian position is being reduced by attrition. As retirements, layoffs, and career changes occur, as often as not the position itself is changed. Cost pressures alone have aided in eliminating many of these jobs.
Unfortunately, there are few other choices. The Bachelor’s degree is such a rarity in the library world, and for no good reason. Support Staff certification is an expensive route seemingly without a direct benefit (does it aid in obtaining a position in a library, vs. simply having a good range of library experience under one’s belt?).
I think that the ALA and other influentual library organizations and people need to recognize that their profession’s professionalism is at stake, and relying on the MLS alone to preserve it is a losing battle. Encouraging the proliferation of Bachelor’s and Associate’s programs with a variety of focus will be a great long-term solution. Creating an inexpensive certification process for those without degrees, in order to establish depth and breadth of knowledge and experience, would be a fantastic step to “professionalize” most of us in the profession.
Copyright can be a challenging maze for library folk and educators, and no area causes more stress than the Fair-Use Doctrine. This is mainly because it deals with gray areas of use, presenting guidelines rather than rules.
The Common Sense of the Fair-Use Doctrine is a brief essay in the current Chronicle of Higher Education that is meant to both inform and empower those who would benefit from the fair use of copyrighted works:
Twenty-five years ago, fair use was widespread and uncontroversial. Journalists, scholars, and documentarians employed it regularly. Publishers and other distributors routinely issued works rich with fair-use claims. But increasingly over the last two decades, that has changed, as large media and software companies have fought for greater copyright protections and ramped up their public-relations campaigns and legal actions.
A good starting point for further research is Wikipedia’s Fair use entry.
link found via Stephanie L. Gross
Google, Bing and Yahoo have joined their efforts and have created schema.org, a site that offers “a one stop resource” for metadata structure for web pages.
There are two schema that stand out as excellent additions to library web sites:
Neither of these will add flash or content to your site or catalog, but it will make them more visible to search engines, and will ultimately increase the use and usability of your library as a whole. If you are involved with your library web site, this needs to be added to your “to do” list!
found via OSDir
The Google Books Settlement was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, arguing that it gave too much power to Google in allowing the company “significant rights to exploit entire books.”
The major problem appears to be the issue of orphaned works, those books which may still be protected by copyright, but do not have a means by which to determine if they actually are, or even who would be the true owner.
In the court ruling (pdf), Chin noted that the issues surrounding orphaned works “is a matter more suited for Congress than this court.”
I would hope that some way can be created through legislation to effectively deal with orphaned works, not only for corporations which lots of resources, but for the rest of us as well, who might not have access to lawyers.
And while we are being hopeful, how about an expansion of Fair Use that would allow for full-text indexing while still protecting the rights holders? Not only would that be “fair”, but the texts would certainly get a lot more “use” if people could discover what they contained!
I don’t hold out much hope for a fair and reasonable review of current copyright law in the near future, however….
found via Peter Murray
Posted in Books, Copyright, Government, News, Publishing
Tagged Copyright, copyright law, Denny Chin, Fair Use, Google Book Search, Google Inc., Orphan works
Wil Wheaton is remembered mostly for either his acting role in Stand By Me, or for his acting role as Wesley Crusher in the first four seasons of Star Trek : The Next Generation.
He is, however, involved in many other activities, including writing books, playing tournament poker, and blogging. One of his recent posts involved a fantastic librarian inspiration:
“I don’t remember her name, but I do remember that she was in her fifties, wore epic 1970s polyester pantsuits, huge glasses that hung from a long gold chain around her neck, and had a hairdo that was ten miles high. She was friendly and helpful, and when she reached out to that nerdy little kid, she changed his life.”
Actually, his story is similar to my own, except I remember the name of my librarian: Mrs. Peters.
There are thousands of stories like this, and it is as good to remember our own, as it is to remember that we have the chance to encourage the <ahem> next generation of readers in their search for inspiration.
thanks to Joan Kendall-Sperry for posting the link!
The San Jose Public Library has launched their new website.
It has a clean design, with clear indications of how to find the information being sought. But what really got my attention was the relationship of the library staff to the content of the site:
Our New Website Launch
- “Every single staff member at SJPL has been asked and empowered to create blog posts for the new site.” The number of staff is greater than 300!
- “Content is not pre-moderated by any web staff.” This includes the blog posts mentioned above, as well as comments from site visitors.
This is a library that is confident in the abilities and judgement of their staff, and secure enough to trust the feedback from their community. No compartmentalization; no review process. If you have something valid to say, get it out there.
Very refreshing, and I suspect that they will find that the flow of information will be beneficial for all involved.
found via Shelf Check (with its own review of the site)
The Guardian newspaper has an interesting story about what can happen when a book from a small publisher wins a prestigious literary award.
This is apparently happening more often, as ec0nomic pressures are causing larger publishers to skip innovative/riskier books and instead focus on that which they are more confident will generate a profit.
The article suggests that this is a battle between quality and quantity, and to a certain extent this is true. However, like most contentious issues, opportunities abound. Possible solutions include:
- Partner with a printing firm to produce a mass-market version of the book. Keep selling as many copies of your “deluxe edition” as you can print, and when the sales rate drops below that level, stop the mass-market version and keep up with demand from your own press.
- Do the above, but add additional incentives for the deluxe edition, such as author inscriptions, or numbered copies. Each of these would likely involve establishing the number of printed copies ahead of time.
- How about allowing pre-payment for the deluxe edition (whether online or through bookstores), with an e-book edition available to all who pre-pay?
- Make it part of every author contract to be able to accommodate unexpected success. Figure out how you can stay profitable and happy while meeting the needs of the author and the reading public, and you will be able to maximize what you love about publishing, and be successful at the same time. Otherwise it becomes a given that a successful author will move to a larger publisher after winning an award.
These ideas aren’t radical… they should be part of the publishing marketplace. There are no losers if the right solutions are applied to the right situations. I know that some of them have been tried, and have been successful:
- Stephen King wasn’t sure about the market for the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger. He first published it through Donald M. Grant Publisher, inc. and created one of the most coveted King editions around. He has continued to publish special editions through them.
- I own a signed and numbered copy of a John Updike novel that was a special edition from a smaller publisher. It isn’t very rare, but it is nice to have a book that was personally handled by the author.
There is a great deal of stress in the publishing world. When this happens, the best response is not to get stressed – get creative!
found via OhioLINK’s Facebook page
The mid-term elections are shaping up to be quite dramatic (although not quite the roller-coaster ride that we had with the 2008 election season).
And Google has come up with a new way to visualize the flood of data that goes along with it all:
Google : 2010 U.S. Election Ratings
from the Official Google Blog
Posted in Google, Government, History, Maps, Online Services, Politics, Web Design
Tagged 2010 Election, election, Google, Google Maps, Government, History, Politics