So, selecting which public domain free on the internet works should be included in the catalog (presumably considering both quality of digital copy and quality/usefulness of the work itself), keeping track of them all of them in their various locations, adding links to them all to our (generally pretty damn crappy) collection tracking software, fixing or removing links when they disappear or change or go down temporarily--- are you suggesting that all of this is trivial non-expensive work, and the only reason libraries aren't doing it are because they are idiotic?
I think that's silly.
If someone provided a platform that aggregated many of these in a single repository, provided downloadable metadata of some kind, ideally provided some support (even for a reasonable charge).... then I bet libraries would bite.
For instance, Project Guttenberg does some of those things -- and there indeed are libraries that load all of Project Gutenberg in their catalog, it's not unheard of. (Although it's still not 'free' to librararies to do so, it takes resources to make that work well).
But I think the idea that users can't find something if it doesn't exist in the catalog is a false one anyway, the catalog is hardly the only place our patrons look for things anymore. There are some unanswered questions about what the purpose of the catalog is or should be in our users research workflow, and it's not obvious to me whether that purpose will involve putting any possible book or article that exists for free on the internet in the catalog. One reason that libraries may not prioritize putting free ebooks in the catalog is because there are other places users can search for free ebooks on the internet -- but there aren't other places users can search for non-free ebooks that they know will be licensed to them as library patrons, or for that matter to search for physical things on the shelves that they know are available from their library.
From: Code for Libraries [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Eric Hellman [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 4:46 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Seth Godin on The future of the library
The others who have responded while I was off, you know, doing stuff, have done a much better job of answering your question than I would have. I would have said something glib like "almost all ways, with respect to open-access digital materials".
There's a shift in library mindset that has to occur along with the transition from print to digital. The clearest example that I've seen is the typical presentation of pretend-its-print out-of-copyright material. A library will have purchased PIP access to an annotated edition of a Shakespeare play, or a new translation of Crime and Punishment. But the public domain versions of these works (which are perfectly good) don't exist in the catalog. A patron looking for ebook versions of these works will then frequently be denied access because another patron has already checked out the licensed version.
That can't be justified by any vision for libraries that I can think of. It can't be justified because it's hard or time consuming, or because there are a flood of PD Crime and Punishments clamoring for attention. It's just a result of unthinking and we-haven't-done-that-before.
It's my hope that there are a number of not-so-hard problems around this situation that people on this list have the tools to solve.
On May 19, 2011, at 1:30 AM, Karen Coyle wrote:
> Quoting Eric Hellman <[log in to unmask]>:
>> Exactly. I apologize if my comment was perceived as coy, but I've chosen to invest in the possibility that Creative Commons licensing is a viable way forward for libraries, authors, readers, etc. Here's a link the last of a 5 part series on open-access ebooks. I hope it inspires work in the code4lib community to make libraries more friendly to free stuff.
> In what ways do you think that libraries today are not friendly to free stuff?
>> On May 18, 2011, at 7:20 PM, David Friggens wrote:
>>>>> Some ebooks, in fact some of the greatest ever written, already cost less
>>>>> than razor blades.
>>>> Do you mean ones not under copyright?
>>> Those, plus Creative Commons etc.
> Karen Coyle
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