Pope Francis Embraces the Internet in Vatican Library Archives Digitizing Scheme

April 4, 2014

The gloriously irreverent article on Gawker titled Japanese Tech Company to Digitize Vatican Library Archives provides insight into the project undertaken by “the chilliest pope” Pope Francis of digitizing the Vatican library archives. The archives extensive collection of documents will cost over 20 million dollars to transfer, and the work has already been started by Japanese tech company NTT Data. The article mentions that this is not the first instance of Japanese company aiding the Vatican. There is plenty of work to keep NTT Data busy. The article explains,

“The goal is to make all 82,000 of the Vatican library’s manuscripts available for browsing from the darkest corners of our digital world without ever having to board a plane. Some of the first documents to become available include “copies of works of classical Greek and Latin literature and mediaeval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts.” Get your browsing fingers ready. Excitement abounds.”

Pope Francis has proved himself a more progressive pope by many of his actions, and this is a similar embrace of current cultural trends. Making the Vatican’s archives available to the general public sounds like a very democratic vision, contrasted with the stereotypical secretive atmosphere the Vatican is usually associated with. But is it all really progress? Perhaps that depends on the man himself.

Chelsea Kerwin, April 04, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

A Wealth of Words at Open Library

March 28, 2014

Looking for a book, any book? Head on over to Open Library, whose laudable goal is to provide “one web page for every book.” Though they have not reached that possibly unachievable aim, the many contributors have made a dent; the page hosts over 20 million documents. Open Library’s home page explains that, much like Wikipedia, the whole project is “open”—open software, open data, open documentation, and an invitation for anyone to “fix a typo, add a book, or write a widget.” The site’s About page explains:

“At its heart, Open Library is a catalog. The project began in November 2007 and has been inhaling catalog records from some of the biggest libraries in the world ever since. We have well over 20 million edition records online, provide access to 1.7 million scanned versions of books, and link to external sources like WorldCat and Amazon when we can. The secondary goal is to get you as close to the actual document you’re looking for as we can, whether that is a scanned version courtesy of the Internet Archive, or a link to Powell’s where you can purchase your own copy.”

How is this different from Project Gutenberg? Well, while Open Library strives to provide at the very least a link to every book in existence, Gutenberg seems content to host a mere 30,000 or so volumes. Part of what makes Open Library’s approach possible is the “borrow modern ebooks” option—users check out and relinquish access to digital copies of works still in copyright. The site pursues the rights to lend these books several ways. Some are contributed by the more-than-1,000 libraries participating in the In-Library Lending Program. There is also a smaller collection of about 11,000 ebooks contributed by the Internet Archive. Open Library also links to WorldCat and OverDrive.com to help users find any works not available in their expanding collection. Bookmark this one for the next time you need to find a book. Any book.

Cynthia Murrell, March 28, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

First Bookless Library Opens in Texas

January 31, 2014

I’ll never forget the library at my former university. It was huge, and old, and full of treasures just waiting to be discovered. Often, when doing specific research, I’d steal a few moments to wander the stacks, pulling out books at near-random. The books’ different colors, textures, sizes, and degrees of wear piqued my curiosity, and I made a number of valuable, serendipitous discoveries. I’m sorry to report that such musty but magnificent experiences are now just a little closer to extinction. Slashdot announces to the “First U.S. Public Library with No Paper Books Opens in Texas.”

A user known as Cold Fjord writes:

“Bexar Country in Texas has opened a new $2.3 million library called BiblioTech. It doesn’t have physical books, only computers and e-reader tablets. It is the first bookless public library system in the U.S. The library opened in an area without nearby bookstores, and is receiving considerable attention. It has drawn visitors from around the U.S. and overseas that are studying the concept for their own use. It appears that the library will have more than 100,000 visitors by year’s end. Going without physical books has been cost effective from an architecture standpoint, since the building doesn’t have to support the weight of books and bookshelves.”

Ah well, I suppose it was just a matter of time. At least this development is good news for the trees.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

DCL Tapped for Library of Congress Digitization Project

January 14, 2014

The U.S. Library of Congress has enlisted the help of conversion-services firm Data Conversion Laboratory (DLC), we learn from “Library of Congress Signs Deal for Digital Content Services” at GCN. The firm will help implement standards for content in both the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office.

GCN editor Paul McCloskey tells us:

“The Copyright Office wants to set up a small number of standard formats, for itself and other institutions to preserve, ‘expand and maintain its collections as more and more journals are being published solely digital formats,’ DCL said. Since 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office has started to issue mandatory deposit requirements for files and metadata associated with electronic periodicals that are published online only and are to be added to the Library of Congress collection. DCL says it has met all of the Library’s specs in carrying the publishing mandates out, including having expertise with the PubMed Central Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) specification for institutional repositories.”

Founded in 1981, Data Conversion Laboratory is a veteran in the digitization field. They pledge they can convert complex content from any format to any format, while offering related services like editorial support and conversion-project management. DCL is located in Fresh Meadows, New York.

Cynthia Murrell, January 14, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

National Library of Norway Makes Digital Copies to Share with Norway

December 17, 2013

The article titled Norway is Digitizing All Its Books and Making Them Free to Read on The Verge explains the effort by the National Library of Norway to make each and every book searchable and readable online for people with Norway IP addresses, this measure even for the oldest texts in the collection, which date back to the Middle Ages. The article states,

“It’s similar to the mass digitization efforts in the UK and Finland, but Norway has taken the extra step of making agreements with many publishers to allow anyone with a Norway IP address to access copyrighted material. The library owns equipment for scanning and text structure analysis of the books. It’s also adding metadata and storing the files in a database for easy retrieval.”

Begun in 2006, librarians have estimated that the entire project of digitizing will take between 20 and 30 years. It is questionable whether this online library will affront publishers, but in the article none are consulted. Much of the texts would no longer carry copyrights, like public records and historical documents, but the library also contains content of all media published. If Google was sued for merely trying to make books searchable online but not even supplying the entire contents of the texts, it seems likely that Norway will certainly face some opposition to their project.

Chelsea Kerwin, December XX, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

On Keeping Libraries Relevant

June 6, 2013

An information management firm specializing in library transformation, Soutron Global, recently hosted the webinar, “Transforming Libraries: What’s Required?” (PDF) The slideshow lays out four keys to successfully bringing an organization’s library into the 21st century. The introduction outlines the webinar:

“1. What is the governance ‘picture’ for sharing knowledge in your organization? Who owns the content?

2. Does your system allow for integrating this knowledge into the organizational workflow?

3. Can you and your team—with the tools you have—operate the specialized library as the company’s knowledge nexus?”

The presentation does share some good information; for example, it suggests beginning with a review of what is already in place before going forward. See the PDF for more. What caught our attention, though, is the telling factoid on slide 11. The presenters polled their audience, and tallied the results during the webinar:

“In your opinion, is your library prepared for meeting your company’s research demands for 2018 (five years from now)?

Poll Results (during the presentation):

Yes 18 percent

No 38 percent

Don’t Know 44 percent”

This means that 82 percent of those polled either don’t know about meeting the research demands in five years or don’t think their libraries can meet those future research demands. Wow. It seems those looking to move forward here have their work cut out for them.

Cynthia Murrell, June 06, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Axiell Group Expands

April 8, 2013

The Swedish Axiell Group AB is developing making moves with the acquisition of the Dutch company Adlib Information Systems. Currently Axiell Group develops as well as supplies advanced IT systems and services for clients such as archives, museums, libraries and also schools. The Journalism.co.uk article “The Swedish Axiell Group in global expansion: Acquisition of Adlib Information Systems makes Axiell the largest in Europe” talks about the big merger. This new record-breaking deal will make Axiell one of the five largest players in the global market. Not only will they gain clients in 30 counties, this merger will provide the platform for them to continue to grow internationally which is one of Axiell’s ultimate goals. Joel Sommerfeldt, CEO of Axiell Group AB made the following statement.

“We are convinced that the combined expertise of the two companies will help us to boost our offer towards the museums, archives and specialist libraries sector all over the world, and we regard this as an important part of our strategy.”

Bert Degenhart Drenth, CEO of Adlib and Marijke van der Kwartel, CFO will continue their work with the company and will become a part of the Axiell management team. Bert Degenhart Drenth, CEO Adlib Information Systems had the following to say

“We at Adlib are very proud to have become a part of the Axiell group. I feel that our combined products, markets and geographic spread enables us to take the next step into the future. However, this is not only important to us, but equally important for our customers, who will benefit from a truly European and sustainable supplier for their mission critical systems. Together we can do more: offer fully integrated solutions for Libraries, Museums and Archives on a large scale.”

The Axiell Group is definitely doing big things and from here their future looks bright.

April Holmes, April 08, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Soutron and EBSCO Join Forces

April 1, 2013

Could the library be a gold mind just waiting to be tapped for its financial resources? The Examiner article “Soutron and EBSCO Enter Partnership Agreement” talks about the technology partnership that Soutron Global and EBSCO forged. With this new partnership Soutron Global will begin to integrate EBSCO Discovery Services with Soutron’s Library and Knowledge Management system. This collaboration will provide clients with a single integrated search environment that they can use for research and information resources. Tony Saadat, President and CEO of Soutron Global made the following statement.

“This partnership means that libraries, knowledge management centers, and information resource portals can ensure optimal access to knowledge assets, physical resources, and digital resources, thus ensuring optimal exploitation of resources.”

EBSCO Publishing is the company behind EBSCOhost, which is a fee-based online research service. A variety of libraries including educational, medical and public use EBSCO services. EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) provides better indexing and full-text searching than any other discovery service. Graham Beastall, Managing Director, UK hade the following to say regarding the collaboration.

“Soutron is very excited to be working with EBSCO on what we regard as a key initiative to develop access to digital and physical resources in an organization. It will allow us to offer customers using Soutron additional opportunities to maximize use of their collection through EDS single search indexing technologies. Our goal is to make life easier for end users and for library managers.”

Never really thought of library catalogs as a way to financial security but could they be the next technology gold mind. Looking at the big picture I think the answer is no. Most libraries already work on a limited budget and it’s unlikely that they will suddenly get additional funds. With their proven technology EBSCO should focus on acquiring library cataloging and services companies for an extra boost. “Might as well be all or nothing.”

April Holmes, April 01, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Looks like Another One

March 14, 2013

Scribd considers itself the world’s largest online library for reading, publishing, and sharing documents and written works and according to the Y Combinator news page piece “Scribd (SF, top 100 site) is hiring PM #1 to build the World’s Online Library” they are currently looking for a project manager/owner. From the information on the listing it sounds like the company, though small is definitely making a name for itself.

“Scribd’s vision is to build the library of the twenty-first century. We are a small-ish but dedicated team of 35 people in San Francisco working towards this vision.

So far, we’re most proud of having:

  • Built one of the world’s largest websites with over 100M monthly uniques
  • Built a profitable company with a sustainable business model
  • Created a rich, fun culture and attracted an amazing team”

The listing goes on to state the qualifications that they are looking for as well as the type of person they think would be a good fit. Scribd and the services it hopes to offer sound very familiar to a few larger names that are already doing the same thing. One would assume that Google, is definitely bigger and more well-known then this company and it arguably has one of the largest digital libraries due to its diverse search capabilities. In addition companies such as Ebsco offer a searchable library full of documents, e-documents, journals etc. from schools, libraries, governments and just about anywhere else you would need and they serve a variety of different types of businesses including libraries. With so many big name and heavy hitters already in the game Scribd definitely has its work cut out for them. Only time will tell if their service will become a thing of the future or simply a footnote of the past.

April Holmes, March 14, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Texas County Plans Bookless Library

March 12, 2013

Is this initiative too little too late? We hope not. The blog over at public-sector IT firm GCN informs us, “Bookless Library Foreshadows Next-Gen Students, Learning Technologies.” The post lauds Bexar County, Texas, for its forward-thinking plan to launch a bookless branch. However, it also notes that how they approach the project can make the difference between a crucial resource for study and “just a nice place for a cup of coffee and texting with friends.” Writer Paul McCloskey explains:

“The project, called BiblioTech, would offer about 10,000 titles that patrons could check-out and access remotely via e-readers and mobile devices, as well as about 100 tablets, laptops and desktop computers that will be made available inside the branch.  Technical help with computers would be offered to patrons, but reference assistance would be cut.”

He goes on to caution:

“Over the long run, simply offering digital or mobile access to its collection is a pretty old technology model. . . . To maintain a healthy level of patronage, libraries, like schools, will have to keep up with the latest media formats, including social media, intelligent browsing and educational gaming.”

Cutting reference assistants with heartbeats may be the first mistake, he asserts, and I agree. Still, the county is to be commended for changing with the times (even if it seems a bit belated to some of us.) If done well, this could set a good precedent for learning centers in the 21st century.

Cynthia Murrell, March 12, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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