Current Cites

Volume 14, no. 11, November 2003

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2003/cc03.14.11.html

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Margaret Gross, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves Systems   Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2003. (http://www.arl.org/access/eres/eresfinalstmt.shtml). - This document, which was drafted by noted copyright experts Georgia Harper (Manager, Intellectual Property Section, University of Texas System Office of General Counsel) and Peggy Hoon (Scholarly Communication Librarian, North Carolina State University Libraries) provides U.S. academic libraries with guidance about how to provide electronic reserve systems that both maximize access to needed materials and comply with copyright law. Given the failure of the CONFU talks to develop electronic reserves guidelines, academic libraries must directly interpret the fair use provisions of Section 107 of the Copyright Act to support electronic reserves use. The authors believe that this section provides strong support for electronic reserves if it is properly applied, and they note that under Section 504(c)(2) when academic libraries "act in good faith, reasonably believing that our actions are fair use, in the unlikely event we are actually sued over a use, we will not have to pay statutory damages even if a court finds that we were wrong." This document was endorsed by the ARL Intellectual Property and Copyright Committee and by ALA, AALL, MLA, and SLA. - CB

Bennahum, David S..  "Warren Buffet for Coupon-ClippersSlate   (12 November 2003) (http://slate.msn.com/id/2091142/). - You may have seen a sign in your local grocery store telling you it is no longer accepting coupons downloaded/printed from the Internet due to fraud/conterfeiting. This article discusses a new and intriguing way that people are using the Internet to maximize their savings from grocery coupons. A website called The Grocery Game analyzes the dead tree coupon inserts from Sunday newspapers all over the country and indentifies whether each coupon offers a "'rock bottom sale' (buy now!) or a mere 'phantom sale'." The website takes all this information and provides a shopping list geared to each subscriber's local supermarket. (Subscribers pay $10 for eight weeks of shopping lists.) It is interesting to read how Teri Gault, The Grocery Game's founder, got her start analyzing coupon amounts and grocery prices in Southern California, mainly due to financial necessity. She began publishing her findings online in February 2000, and now "she franchises the business across the country, with six franchisees covering supermarkets in 22 states." The website also includes a message board for subscriber discussions. The author speculates about how "a collaboratively filtered, 'smart mob' nation of coupon-clipping shoppers" could significantly change the coupon business as a whole. And, he points out, "When it comes to consumer services, Internet companies can be divided into two broad categories: those with gee-whiz technology that isn't necessarily useful, and simple ideas that help people to better accomplish an existing task. The latter have fared better than the former." - SK

Broun, Kevin.  "Integrating Internet ContentnetConnect   (Fall 2003):  20-23. (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA323333). - When someone refers to RSS, most people think blogs (web logs or "diaries"). But as this article explains, one of the best uses of RSS is in automatic web site updating. Broun, Senior Web Developer at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides an informative explanation of how they use RSS to automatically update their web site. He also explains how they are also producing RSS feeds themselves, so that others can discover what's new from NCI. - RT

Byers, Fred R.. Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs: A Guide for Librarians and Archivists   Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, October 2003. (http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub121abst.html). - Written by a technical staff member at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, this guide should be enthusiastically welcomed by any librarian or archivist who must store and manage CDs or DVDs. When optical discs were first introduced, the hype was that they were virtually indestructible. Of course that was simply hype, and librarians and archivists are only too familiar with the many ways in which optical discs are vulnerable. But what has been difficult to find until now has been solid, authoritative information on this topic presented in an easy to understand manner. This slim report (42 pages including bibliography) is just such a resource. Included are diagrams and explanations of all the various physical architecture of these discs, a discussion about each type of disc regarding life expectancy (as you might imagine, it depends on a number of factors), how to properly clean them, and perhaps most important given its potential impact on life expectancy, conditions that affect CDs and DVDs. Highly recommended for anyone with something on an optical disc they care about keeping. - RT

Cochrane, Nick.  "Too Much InformationThe Age   (11 November 2003) (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/11/10/1068329472603.html). - "Despite having more information at our fingertips than any generation before, there is little evidence that our ability to make good, timely decisions has improved." Who can argue with this? We are increasingly computer-literate and Internet-literate, but we are woefully lagging when it comes to information literacy -- this refers to society as a whole, of course, and not to information professionals. We are bombarded with facts that we can memorize, but we don't know how to sift and synthesize, According to Ralph Catts, a University of New England researcher, "people need to check for authenticity, currency and reliability." British researcher Sheila Webber points out that "information illiterate doctors are 'literally a disaster area' because health is 'a matter of life and death'." One thing we can do is pay more attention to how our personalities influence our information-seeking behavior. Read information literacy researcher Jannica Heinstrom's study, Fast Surfers, Broad Scanners and Deep Divers, to find out which one of the three you are. Other issues having a negative impact on information literacy: "the spread of unfiltered information" and unequal access to technology and connectivity. - SK

Coyle, Karen.  "E-Books: It's About Evolution, Not RevolutionnetConnect   (Fall 2003):  8-12. (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA323334). - Coyle has long tracked the e-book phenomenon, and is active in professional and industry groups such as the Open eBook Forum. Therefore, she knows whereof she speaks, and thus this is a piece that anyone interested in e-books should read. Beginning with the fall of the Rocket Reader, Coyle contrasts that debacle with the countervailing statistic that ebook sales are growing (albeit for different platforms). After a quick nod to public domain and university-based projects, Coyle surveys the commercial landscape and variant models for ebook publication and marketing, with an eye toward the particular needs of libraries. - RT

Hirtle, Peter B..  "Digital Preservation and CopyrightCopyright & Fair Use   (November 2003) (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/commentary_and_analysis/2003_11_hirtle.html). - Hirtle provides a very useful overview of all the various aspects of copyright law that may apply to a library or archive's work to preserve digital content. The upshot of the piece is probably contained in this excerpt: 'Fortunately, while there is no general exemption for preservation activities in copyright law, there are exemptions that can help individuals and especially libraries and archives legally preserve expressive works for the future. There are some specific exemptions for certain types of actions and for certain actors. Furthermore, in the absence of a specific exemption, one can always consider fair use as a defense when making a preservation copy.' Most the remainder of the piece provides the justifying details for that statement. This should be required reading for any library or archive intent on preserving digital material that my be under copyright. - RT

Kanellos, Michael.  "Microsoft aims for search on its own termsCNET News.com   (24 November 2003) (http://news.com.com/2100-1008_3-5110910.html). - Microsoft is tinkering with various technologies that, essentially, would link search functions more closely to the operating system -- specifically, the forthcoming Longhorn OS, a major update that should hit the streets in 2006. This article specifically mentions an experimental application, Implicit Query, that "retrieves links, music files, e-mails and other materials that relate to applications running in the foreground" -- without the user specifically having to search for them. The author says that such applications may "undermine the utility of commercial search engines," by making its own software the most convenient place to initiate a search. More than 1,000 internal users at Microsoft are currently using a prototype application called Stuff I've Seen, that stores "every screen that has popped up on a given computer monitor for a year" right on the hard drive, creating a local database that is easily queried. In fact, the experimental search applications mentioned here are concerned mainly with the universe of information that exists on the local hard drive -- which may not be so limited when, according to studies conducted by the company, "up to 81 percent of Web pages accessed are repeat visits." Thus, the links someone is interested in may already be residing on his or her computer. - SK

Karat, J., and C. M  Karat.  "The Evolution of User-Centered Focus in the Human-Computer Interaction FieldIBM Systems Journal   42(4) (November 2003):  532-541. (http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/424/karat.pdf). - Interesting look at Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) over a twenty year period. In the beginning, the authors see a terrain divided into two parts: In one part were the theorists who came out of the behavioral sciences and who emphasized clinical observation of users interacting with technology; In the other part were the technologists who concentrated on improving the hardware and software. These two parts gradually drew together as the general goals of HCI became clearer. Along the way, what practitioners called themselves underwent a change. First, they were "human factors specialists", then "usability engineers", and finally "User-Centered Design (UCD) specialists". This change suggests a broadening of focus and approach. The article is part of a special issue devoted to Ease of Use. - LRK

Klein, Leo.  "The Expert User Is DeadLibrary Journal   (15 October 2003) (http://libraryjournal.reviewsnews.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA323336&publication=libraryjournal). - This essay, by fellow Current Cites contributor Leo Robert Klein, touched a very sensitive nerve. It is a wonderful, articulate rant against bibliographic "experts" who are fixated on giving users what the experts think they need rather than what the users really want. We make a huge mistake, Klein maintains, by assuming that our users are just like us. They aren't. Like it or not, most library users carry over their Web search habits into proprietary database searching. The returned results that come up first are the ones most likely to be utilized; many users do not scroll down or click to go onto the next page of results. Their objective is to seize on something usable as quickly as possible, so they can complete their research projects. As information professionals, we may lament this, but we are hard-put to change peoples' habits. So we need to be working with them rather than against them, by designing library websites with user-friendly interfaces rather than sites for "expert users." Says Klein, "The expert user is dead, not because we no longer need sophisticated tools to find information -- emphatically we do -- but because we can no longer get away with designing for expert users only." - SK

Stott, Victoria.  "A Museum Library in TransitionLibrary + Information Update [Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)]   (November 2003):  5pp.. (http://www.cilip.org.uk/update/issues/nov03/article3nov.html). - This article capsulizes the history of an old and venerable British institution, the National Art Library (NAL), based in the Victoria & Albert Museum. As librarians we face both continual change, and uncertainty over our roles. It is both encouraging and refreshing to see that this dichotomy is not new. In 1837 the Museum and its adjunct Library were created in order to train artisans in design, which could be applied to British manufacture. This measure was implemented in an attempt to improve the floundering fortunes in the export of British products. Over the years the MAL saw its mission and services expand and erode in step with the vagaries of the times. The 1960s through to the 1980s proved to be dire times for the NAL. Increased user demamd, explosive publishing, combined with the twin evils of budgetary cutbacks and staff layoffs forced the Library to serve only as a 'library of last reort.' Finally at its nadir, the Library was forced to shut down frequently. Presently the NAL is being revitalized. It now has a firm mission, to serve and support the Museum. It will be the Gateway, a single access point for client enquiries related to the Museum's collections. New communications technologies are being utilized to develop a host of user connectivity products and services. All should be in place by 2006. - MG

Tognazzini, Bruce.  "D'ohLT #2: Security D'ohLTsAskTOG   (November 2003) (http://www.asktog.com/columns/058SecurityD'ohlts.html). - If you've ever been irked by seemingly inane computer security measures, this article is your revenge. In it, well-known human interface evangelist, Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini points to self-defeating practices that are so confusing they inherently lead to workarounds, say a post-it full of passwords stuck to the computer monitor. These workarounds lead in their turn to very insecure computer systems. Favorite line: "Excessive security can not only turn your financial and medical information into an open book, it can actually kill you." - LRK

Youngstrom, Erica.  "Technology poses problems for journalsYale Daily News   (21 November 2003) (http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=24250). - Lots of us assumed that journal subscriptions online would naturally be cheaper than the print versions. It has not turned out that way. Granted, the online versions are easier and more convenient to use, but according to Yale Associate University Librarian Ann Okerson, journal subscription costs are going up at a rate of nine percent a year...and how many library budgets are increasing at that same rate? The problem is particularly acute in the sciences; at Yale, for example, of the $6.5 million Yale spent on journal subscriptions in 2001-2002, $3.6 million went for scientific, medical and technical journals. Price increases for journals in other disciplines have not seen such dramatic increases, but prices are not dropping, either. A key issue is whether it is necessary to also continue with print subscriptions. Most faculty members understand the economic issues involved, but some worry about ongoing access to out-of-print materials, etc. One professor conceded, "Maybe not every department has to have a hard copy at every university." Another professor said that although he acknowledges the financial aspects involved in the dissemination of information, "as a researcher I sincerely wish it was free." - SK


Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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