Current Cites

Current Cites, October 2005

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Asaravala, Amit. "Putting AJAX to WorkInfoWorld  (42)(October 17, 2005)( - If you're coo-coo for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), you're likely to wolf down any article on the subject. AJAX is a set of technologies that combines behind-the-scenes server requests with changes in information on web pages that don't require a complete rewrite of the screen. If you've ever selected an item on a dropdown menu and, based on this selection, more options show up magically on the screen, you may have already seen AJAX at work. This article from a recent edition of InfoWorld looks at the technology from the perspective of "enterprise applications". If you can build an email application based on AJAX, can an OPAC be far behind? - LRK

Covey, Denise Troll. Acquiring Copyright Permission to Digitize and Provide Open Access to Books  Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, October 2005.( - As anyone who has tried to do it knows, obtaining the right to digitize a work under copyright can be mind-blowingly difficult. This CLIR study makes it clear just out difficult it can be, based on the experiences of Carnegie-Mellon University to acquire the rights to digitize books and provide open access to them on the web. This paper is particularly interesting in light of Google's position that they can digitize books and make "snippets" of the text freely available on the web without violating copyright. The outcome of the pending court cases will be watched with interest by many. - RT

Gandel, Paul B.. "Libraries: Standing at the Wrong Platform, Waiting for the Wrong Train?EDUCAUSE  (November/December 2005)( - The issue of whether libraries have been rendered obsolete in the digital world is not a new one. Recently, it's surfaced again in the wake of the University of Texas announcing that it would expel the books from its undergraduate library and turn it into an "information commons." And, of course, there is the 800-pound gorilla -- Google Print. Gandel -- Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at Syracuse University -- points out in this article that "the relationship between collections, consumers, and the library as mediator remains." However, as he points out here, "the Web is affecting the very core areas of library services: (1) collections, (2) preservation, and (3) reference." He explores each of these area in depth, discussing commercial information aggregators, digitization and e-books, and Google...which "has become the most widely used tool for addressing all sorts of questions," virtually supplanting the reference librarian at the local public library. Libraries have tried to rise to the occasion, he says, with such initiatives as virtual reference services. "But it is not clear whether these redesigned services can compete with the rapidly growing commercial services available on the Web." Although libraries have largely adapted to incorporate new technologies, the role of the librarian hangs in a sort of limbo. "It is not hard to imagine a scenario in which colleges and universities will shift their resources to pay for a national information service customized to the needs of the individual institution rather than support their own local library reference service." Provocative article. - SK

Kahle, Brewster. The Open Library  San Francisco: Internet Archive, October 2005.( - This digital "book" was created for the unveiling of the Open Content Alliance, a collaborative project to digitize public domain works held by libraries and other cultural institutions around the world. "The Open Library website was created by the Internet Archive to demonstrate a way that books can be represented online." This book is one of the first, although there are other "real" books at the site that demonstrates one way these books can be put online. But it's important to point out that there can, and will be, other online depictions of these books, since the files can all be freely downloaded by anyone. - RT

Plutchak, T. Scott. "The Impact of Open AccessJournal of the Medical Library Association  93(4)(2005): 419-421. ( - Plutchak, editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, was "astonished" when he looked at this open access journal's 6/04-5/05 use statistics: it had had over 20,000 unique users visit the journal even though the Medical Library Association, which publishes the journal, only has around 4,500 members. Thinking that the number was inflated because of technical reasons, he contacted PubMed Central, who hosts the journal, and was told if anything the number was low: 30,000 was more likely. Plutchak credits the journal's over four-year-old open access policy with raising JMLA's visibility, and he recounts other interesting facts that demonstrate it. He then discusses the impact of open access on subscriptions and MLA membership (including some interesting data about ad trends), then summarizes an informal online member survey probing attitudes towards free access and membership renewal and a survey of MLA Board members about publication options if open access ceases to be viable. This is a fascinating look at one professional society editor's view of the real-world impact of open access on his journal. - CB

Suber, Peter. "Does Google Library Violate Copyright?SPARC Open Access Newsletter  (90)(2005)( - After drawing the distinction between the two components of Google Print (Google Library and Google Publisher), Suber proceeds to clearly analyze the case both for and against the Authors Guild's lawsuit against Google Library. Weighing four arguments for copyright violation and six against it, he concludes: "The authors—and the publishers who share the same grievance—are getting far too much mileage from the claim that Google's opt-out policy turns the usual copyright rule on its head. This claim has a deceptive strength. It's strong because it would be valid for most full-text copying. It's deceptive because it assumes without proof that the Google copying is not fair use. Hence it begs the question at the heart of the lawsuit. If the Google copying is fair use, then no prior permission is needed and the opt-out policy is justified. Moreover, Google has several good arguments that its copying really is fair use, most notably its argument that its indexing will enhance rather than diminish book sales and its analogy to long-accepted opt-out policies for search-engine indexing of other copyrighted content." For those readers who really want to dig into the Google Library controversy, my recent bibliography on this subject may also be of interest. - CB

Xiang, Xiaorong, and Eric Lease  Morgan. "Exploiting 'Light-weight' Protocols and Open Source Tools to Implement Digital Library Collections and ServicesD-Lib Magazine  11(10)(October 2005)( - This article demonstrates that doing new, innovative things in libraries doesn't require inventing new technologies -- all one must do is to combine existing protocols and technologies in new ways. Using a combination of protocols such as OAI-PMH and SRU, along with tools like Perl and Swish-e, Xiang and Morgan describe how they created two new library services. - RT