Coverage of the Demise of Microsoft's Mass Digitization Project

Microsoft's decision to end its Live Search Books program, which provided important funding for the Open Content Alliance, has been widely covered by newspapers, blogs, and other information sources.

Here's a selection of articles and posts: "Books Scanning to be Publicly Funded," "'It Ain’t Over Till It's Over': Impact of the Microsoft Shutdown," "Microsoft Abandons Live Search Books/Academic Scan Plan," "Microsoft Burns Book Search—Lacks 'High Consumer Intent,'" "Microsoft Shuts Down Two of Its Google 'Wannabe’s': Live Search Books and Live Search Academic," "Microsoft Will Shut Down Book Search Program," "Microsoft's Book-Search Project Has a Surprise Ending," "Post-Microsoft, Libraries Mull Digitization," "Publishers Surprised by Microsoft Move," "Why Killing Live Book Search Is Good for the Future of Books," and "Without Microsoft, British Library Keeps on Digitizing."

Encyclopaedia Britannica to Accept Online Contributions from Scholars and Readers

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced that it will allow online contributions from scholars and readers. All contributions will be vetted before becoming public.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The Britannica Online site will become the hub of a new online community that will welcome and engage thousands of scholars and experts with whom we already have relationships. . . .

To elicit their participation in our new online community of scholars, we will provide our contributors with a reward system and a rich online home that will enable them to promote themselves, their work, and their services; allow them to showcase and publish their various works-in-progress in front of the Britannica audience; and help them find and interact with colleagues around the world. In this way our online community of scholars not only will be able to interact with our editors and content in a more effective manner; they will also be able to share directly with Britannica’s visitors content that they may have created outside Encyclopaedia Britannica and will allow those visitors to suggest changes and additions to that content. . . .

Readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica’s site under their own names. Interested users will be able to prepare articles, essays, and multimedia presentations on subjects in which they’re interested. Britannica will help them with research and publishing tools and by allowing them to easily use text and non-text material from Encyclopaedia Britannica in their work. We will publish the final products on our site for the benefit of all readers, with all due attribution and credit to the people who created them. The authors will have the option of collaborating with others on their work, but each author will retain control of his or her own work. . . .

Two things we believe distinguish this effort from other projects of online collaboration are (1) the active involvement of the expert contributors with whom we already have relationships; and (2) the fact that all contributions to Encyclopaedia Britannica’s core content will continue to be checked and vetted by our expert editorial staff before they’re published.

Read more about it at "Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes—Gasp!—Wiki."

Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources: An Ithaka Report Released

The Strategic Content Alliance has released Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources: An Ithaka Report.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

This paper was commissioned by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is the first step in a three-stage process aimed at gaining a more systematic understanding of the mechanisms for pursuing sustainability in not-for-profit projects. It focuses on what we call 'online academic resources' (OARs), which are projects whose primary aim is to make content and scholarly discourse available on the web for research, collaboration, and teaching. This includes scholarly journals and monographs as well as a vast array of new formats that are emerging to disseminate scholarship, such as preprint servers and wikis. It also includes digital collections of primary source materials, datasets, and audio-visual materials that universities, libraries, museums, archives and other cultural and educational institutions are putting online.

This work is being done as part of the planning work for the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA), so it emphasises the development and maintenance of digital content useful in the networked world. In this first stage, we have conducted an initial assessment of the relevant literature focused on not-for-profit sustainability, and have compared the processes pursued in the not-for-profit and education sectors with those pursued by commercial organisations, specifically in the newspaper industry. The primary goal of this initial report is to determine to what extent it would make sense to conduct a more in-depth study of the issues surrounding sustainability.

Google Book Search Bibliography, Version 2

The Google Book Search Bibliography, Version 2 is now available.

This bibliography presents selected English-language articles and other works that are useful in understanding Google Book Search. It primarily focuses on the evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. Where possible, links are provided to works that are freely available on the Internet, including e-prints in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories. Note that e-prints and published articles may not be identical.

E-Book Readers to Go: NCSU Libraries to Check Out Kindles and Sony Readers

Starting next week, the North Carolina State University Libraries will check out Kindles and Sony Reader Digital Books from its Learning Commons. Users will ask library staff to load desired e-books on the readers at check-out.

Read more about it at "Library to Offer New Reading Options."

Another interesting development is that the NCSU Libraries are supporting both Weblog (WolfBlogs) and Wiki (WolfWikis) services for NCSU community members.

Two JISC Debates: E-Textbooks and the Library of the Future

A series of postings on the JISC Libraries of the Future Weblog document two debates: Revolution or Evolution: The JISC National E Textbook Debate and From eLib to the Library of the Future.

Here are the postings in chronological order:

California Digital Library Puts Up Mass Digitization Projects Page

The California Digital Library has added a UC Libraries Mass Digitization Projects page to its Inside CDL Web site.

The Web site includes links to Frequently Asked Questions, contracts with digitization partners, and other information.

Of special interest in the FAQ are the questions "What rights to the digitized content does UC have in the projects; will access be limited in any way?" and "How will our patrons be able to access these texts, i.e. through MELVYL, or local catalogs, or a webpage, any search engine, or….?"

Project Reports from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2008 Research in Information Technology Retreat

Project reports from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2008 Research in Information Technology retreat are now available.

Here are selected project briefing reports:

Open Source Multimedia Document Creation and Reading Tool: Sophie Version 1.0 Released

The Institute for the Future of the Book has released version 1.0 of Sophie, an open source tool for creating and reading multimedia networked documents.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Sophie is software for writing and reading rich media documents in a networked environment.

Sophie’s goal is to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of people and institutions and in so doing to redefine the notion of a book or "academic paper" to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation in dynamic margins.

Read more about Sophie at "Sophie Project Gets $1 Million from Macarthur Foundation," the Sophie documentation, and the Sophie tutorials.

Supporting Digital Scholarly Editions: A Report on the Conference of January 14, 2008

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities have published Supporting Digital Scholarly Editions: A Report on the Conference of January 14, 2008, which was written by Ithaka staff.

Here'a an excerpt from the "Introduction":

On January 14, 2008, a group of editors, representatives from university presses, and other stakeholders met to discuss the future of scholarly editions and how they might best be supported in the digital age. . . . .

The objectives of the meeting were:

  • To identify services and tools that are critical for supporting digital documentary editions;
  • To assess the need for a service provider to facilitate the production of these editions; and
  • To articulate the key uncertainties involved in creating such a service provider, so that those can be further investigated.

This report documents the workshop, with the goal of providing a reference not only for participants, but also for others in the community who are concerned with the future of scholarly editions. It is divided into three sections that follow the course of the day itself:

  1. Developing a vision for the next generation scholarly edition
  2. How do we get there? Identifying needs and gaps
  3. Creating a service provider for scholarly editions

NYU Libraries and Institute for the Future of the Book Partner to Develop New Digital Scholarly Communication Tools

The New York University Division of Libraries and the Institute for the Future of the Book will work together to develop new digital scholarly communications tools.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"We are constantly watching the unfolding digital landscape for new paths we might want to take," said Carol A. Mandel, dean of the NYU Libraries. "IFB is a thought leader in the future of scholarly communication. We will work together to develop new software and new options that faculty can use to pubish, review, share, and collaborate at NYU and in the larger academic community."

For the past three years, IFB has been researching, prototyping, and sketching out models for how university presses could expand their publishing programs to include digital and networked formats. IFB is best known for its series of "networked book" experiments, which modify popular blogging technologies to create social book formats for the Web. Among these are: "Without Gods" by NYU’s Mitchell Stephens, "The Googlization of Everything" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, "Gamer Theory" by McKenzie Wark (the first fully networked digital monograph), and "Expressive Processing" by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, which is currently undergoing the first blog-based peer review.

Out of these projects, IFB developed CommentPress, an extension for the WordPress blog platform that enables paragraph-level commenting in the margins of a text. IFB is also at work on a powerful open source digital authoring environment called Sophie, the first version of which has just been released.

"We are thrilled to be working with NYU," said IFB Director Bob Stein. "We now have the benefit not only of the Libraries’ first-rate technical support, but also of working with world-class faculty, many of whom are leading innovators in digital scholarly communications."

In an auspicious start to their partnership, NYU Libraries and IFB have been awarded a start-up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to design a set of networking tools that will serve as the membership system for MediaCommons, an all-electronic scholarly publishing network in the digital humanities that IFB has been instrumental in developing.

Under the agreement, three of IFB’s leaders will serve as visiting scholars at NYU. They are Bob Stein; Ben Vershbow, IFB editorial director; and researcher Dan Visel. They will work with NYU librarians; with the digital library team, headed by James Bullen; and with Monica McCormick, the Libraries’ program officer for digital scholarly publishing.

Read more about it at "Major News: IFB and NYU Libraries to Collaborate."

Random House Group Executive Gail Rebuck on Publishing Books in a Digital Age

Gail Rebuck, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Random House Group, recently delivered the Stationers' Company Annual Lecture on "New Chapter or Last Page? Publishing Books in a Digital Age." Among other topics in this interesting, wide-ranging presentation, she discussed publishers' digital copyright concerns and Google Book Search, including saying:

Piracy threatens to erode the copyright protection that is the cornerstone of our creative industries and their successful exports. Vigilant policing and joined-up legislation across all countries is essential. Education is vital, too, to show that these crimes are in no sense 'victimless,' however harmless they may seem. Indifference to copyright protection and copyright worth will prove highly destructive. . . .

For texts held in the public domain the project [Google Book Search], seems entirely laudable, even exciting, since it brings an inconceivably rich library to anyone's desktop. But Google's initial willingness to capture copyrighted works without first asking permission was, to say the least, surprising. . . .

Google’s attitude towards copyright is merely a corporate expression of the individualist, counter-cultural attitudes of many of the Internet pioneers. As Stewart Brand, author of The Whole Earth Catalog once declared, 'information wants to be free.'

Google Book Search Book Viewability API Released

Google has released the Google Book Search Book Viewability API.

Here's an excerpt from the API home page:

The Google Book Search Book Viewability API enables developers to:

  • Link to Books in Google Book Search using ISBNs, LCCNs, and OCLC numbers
  • Know whether Google Book Search has a specific title and what the viewability of that title is
  • Generate links to a thumbnail of the cover of a book
  • Generate links to an informational page about a book
  • Generate links to a preview of a book

Read more about it at "Book Info Where You Need It, When You Need It."

France's Answer to Mass Digitization Projects: Gallica 2 to Go Live after Paris Book Fair

France's Gallica 2 digital book project will go live after the Paris Book Fair, which ends on March 19th. Initially, it will contain 62,000 digital works, mostly from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Publishers will have the option to charge various kinds of access fees.

Read more about it at "France Launches Google Books Rival."

TRLN (Triangle Research Libraries Network) Members Join the Open Content Alliance

TRLN (Triangle Research Libraries Network) has announced that its member libraries (Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) have joined the Open Content Alliance.

Here's an excerpt from "TRLN Member Libraries Join Open Content Alliance":

In the first year, UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University will each convert 2,700 public domain books into high-resolution, downloadable, reusable digital files that can be indexed locally and by any web search engine. UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU will start by each hosting one state-of-the-art Scribe machine provided by the Internet Archive to scan the materials at a cost of just 10 cents per page. Each university library will focus on historic collection strengths, such as plant and animal sciences, engineering and physical science at NCSU and social sciences and humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill. Duke University will also contribute select content for digitization during the first year of the collaborative project.

A Major Milestone for the University of Michigan Library: One Million Digitized Books

The University of Michigan Library has digitized and made available one million books from its collection.

Here's an excerpt from "One Million Digitized Books":

One million is a big number, but this is just the beginning. Michigan is on track to digitize its entire collection of over 7.5 million bound volumes by early in the next decade. So far we have only glimpsed the kinds of new and innovative uses that can be made of large bodies of digitized books, and it is thrilling to imagine what will be possible when nearly all the holdings of a leading research library are digitized and searchable from any computer in the world.

Columbia University and Microsoft Book Digitization Project

The Columbia University Libraries have announced that they will work with Microsoft to digitize a "large number of books" that are in the public domain.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Columbia University and Microsoft Corp. are collaborating on an initiative to digitize a large number of books from Columbia University Libraries and make them available to Internet users. With the support of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), publicly available print materials in Columbia Libraries will be scanned, digitized, and indexed to make them readily accessible through Live Search Books. . . .

Columbia University Libraries is playing a key role in book selection and in setting quality standards for the digitized materials. Microsoft will digitize selected portions of the Libraries’ great collections of American history, literature, and humanities works, with the specific areas to be decided mutually by Microsoft and Columbia during the early phase of the project.

Microsoft will give the Library high-quality digital images of all the materials, allowing the Library to provide worldwide access through its own digital library and to share the content with non-commercial academic initiatives and non-profit organizations.

Read more about it at "Columbia University Joins Microsoft Scan Plan."

Peter Brantley Critiques Google Book Search

In "Reading Bad News Between the Lines of Google Book Search" (Chronicle of Higher Education subscription required), Peter Brantley, Executive Director of the Digital Library Federation, discusses his concerns about Google Book Search.

Here's an excerpt:

Q. Why are you concerned about Google Book Search?

A. The quality of the book scans is not consistently high. The algorithm Google uses to return search results is opaque. Then there's the commercial aspect. Google will attempt to find ways to make money off the service.

PublicDomainReprints.org Turns Digital Public Domain Books into Printed Books

PublicDomainReprints.org is offering an experimental service that allows users to convert about 1.7 million digital public domain books in the Internet Archive, Google Book Search, or the Universal Digital Library into printed books using the Lulu print-on-demand service.

Source: "Converting Google Book PDFs to Actual Books."

Columbia University Libraries and Bavarian State Library Become Google Book Search Library Partners

Both the Columbia University Libraries and Bavarian State Library have joined the Google Book Search Library Project.

Here are the announcements:

Sophie Project Gets $1 Million from Macarthur Foundation

Thanks to a million dollar grant from the Macarthur Foundation, version 1.0 of Sophie, software that allows non-programmers to easily create multimedia documents, will be released in February 2008. Sophie runs on Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems. An alpha version and several demo books created with Sophie are available.

Here's an excerpt the project's home page:

Originally conceived as a standalone multimedia authoring tool, Sophie is now integrated into the Web 2.0 network in some very powerful ways:

  • Sophie documents can be uploaded to a server and then streamed over the net
  • It's possible to embed remote audio, video and graphic text files in the pages of Sophie documents meaning that the actual document that needs to be distributed might be only a few hundred kilobytes even if the book itself is comprised of hundreds of megabytes or even a few gigabytes.
  • Sophie now has the ability to browse OKI (open knowledge initiative) repositories from within Sophie itself and then to embed objects from those repositories.
  • We now have live dynamic text fields (similar to the Institute's CommentPress experiments on the web) such that a comment written in the margin is displayed immediately in every other copy of that book—anywhere in the world.

Pitt's Libraries and University Press Establish Open Access Book Program

The University of Pittsburgh University Library System and the University of Pittsburgh University Press have established the University of Pittsburgh University Press Digital Editions, which offers free access to digitized versions of print books from the press.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System (ULS) and University Press have formed a partnership to provide digital editions of press titles as part of the library system’s D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program. Thirty-nine books from the Pitt Latin American Series published by the University of Pittsburgh Press are now available online, freely accessible to scholars and students worldwide. Ultimately, most of the Press’ titles older than 2 years will be provided through this open access platform.

For the past decade, the University Library System has been building digital collections on the Web under its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program, making available a wide array of historical documents, images and texts which can be browsed by collection and are fully searchable. The addition of the University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions collection marks the newest in an expanding number of digital collaborations between the University Library System and the University Press.

The D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program includes digitized materials drawn from Pitt collections and those of other libraries and cultural institutions in the region, pre-print repositories in several disciplines, the University’s mandatory electronic theses and dissertations program, and electronic journals during the past eight years, sixty separate collections have been digitized and made freely accessible via the World Wide Web. Many of these projects have been carried out with content partners such as Pitt faculty members, other libraries and museums in the area, professional associations, and most recently, with the University of Pittsburgh Press with several professional journals and the new University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions. . . .

More titles will be added to the University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions each month until most of the current scholarly books published by the Press are available both in print and as digital editions. The collection will eventually include titles from the Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies, the Pitt-Konstanz Series in the Philosophy and History of Science, the Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture, the Security Continuum: Global Politics in the Modern Age, the History of the Urban Environment, back issues of Cuban Studies, and numerous other scholarly titles in history, political science, philosophy, and cultural studies.

JISC Academic Database Assessment Tool: Compare E-Resource Access Capabilities across Vendors

The free JISC Academic Database Assessment Tool allows users to compare journal title lists, journal database capabilities, and e-book database capabilities for selected e-resource products and systems. For example, the user can compare the functionality of ebrary with that of NetLibrary.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

With so many products offering a huge diversity and wealth of information, it can be difficult for librarians to know what resources they should be investing in. The Academic Database Assessment Tool provides access to detailed information and title lists for major bibliographic and full text databases. It also delivers key service information for database and e-Book content platforms. This enables librarians to quickly compare and contrast key items to assist in the purchase decision process. These include: a list of titles included in each database; search features available; linking methods e.g. full text linking; metadata standards and methods of access provided to these resources e.g. IP access, Athens or Shibboleth.

Prompted by the strong support from university librarians in the UK, a prototype version of this tool was launched at the end of 2006. Sponsorship from IBSS, Thomson Scientific, Elsevier and ProQuest means that this tool has been further developed from the beta stage of its development and continues to remain freely available.

As the information for this tool has been provided directly by the relevant content suppliers and publishers, librarians will have the opportunity to access the latest information on the resources they already subscribe to. Librarians can subscribe to the email altering service notifying them when suppliers update their listings.