ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis

ARL issued a statement today on the impacts of the global economic crisis on library budgets and the corresponding effect on subscriptions and purchasing patterns. The statement backs up a similar release by ICOLC last month.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released a statement on the current global economic crisis and its effect on publishing and library subscriptions. The ARL statement, which is aimed at scholarly publishers and vendors, reinforces some of the key points in a recent statement by the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and offers additional observations and recommendations from the perspectives of ARL member libraries.

Specifications for Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) published

ORE Logo The first production version of the Object Reuse and Exchange from the Open Archives Initiative was published today. In the words of the release announcement, ORE provides “the foundation for applications and services that can visualize, preserve, transfer, summarize, and improve access to the aggregations that people use in their daily Web interaction: including multiple page Web documents, multiple format documents in institutional repositories, scholarly data sets, and online photo and music collections.”

Clay Shirky on the Need for Better Information Filters

Last month, Clay Shirky gave a presentation with the title “It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure” at the Web 2.0 Expo. 1 Shirky admits up front at the start of the talk that the topic is something new that he is exploring, and as a result the ideas are not fully formed. (I get lost in how the last of his three examples applies to the topic at hand, for instance.) But his viewpoint is a refreshing way to look at the issue of “information overload” from a new perspective, and it is worth looking at even in this raw stage. For starters, he says that we’ve been facing information overload for the past 500 years — since the introduction of the Gutenburg movable type press gave readers more books than they could possibly read. What has changed in the last decade has been how past information “filters” are no longer effective.

Espresso Book Machine Print-on-Demand

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Espresso Book Machine version 1.5

The recent announcement by the University of Michigan Libraries about the first-in-a-library installation of an Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. And rightly so. Given Michigan’s leadership in the area of digitizing books in the public domain, it is little wonder that they would take the next step towards a print-on-demand solution for students that want to own a hard copy of their own.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) might also of interest here in Ohio. OhioLINK is building a repository of recent current-year books that we license from publishers. One wonders, with the addition of an add-on license fee to the copyright owners, whether we could use such a machine to print on-demand books from current titles. On Demand Books is obviously thinking along the same lines; in April they entered into a partnership with Lightning Source Industries, which enables the EBM to print from Lightning Source’s catalogue of over 500,000 in-copyright books. The EBM can also access nearly 400,000 public domain books through their relationship with the Open Content Alliance.

Final Version of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act Leaves Textbook Provisions Intact

Earlier this week U.S. Senate passed its own version of the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007″ (H.R.4137 to amend and extend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes) by unanimous consent (hence no recorded vote) and appointed members of a conference committee to resolve differences with the U.S. House version. The conference committee report was published yesterday1. This afternoon the House completed a roll-call vote approving the conference version. If I remember my civics class correctly, the bill now goes to the president for a signature. The conference report had to be approved by the Senate, which it did late Thursday night. Although the White House previously opposed the bill, the Associate Press reports that President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

Colorado Community College System Announces Flat-price Electronic Textbooks from Pearson Education

Colorado Community College System (CCCS) signed an agreement with Pearson Education for flat-rate access to Pearson textbook content online. News of this comes by way of a link left by Lorcan Dempsey in a comment to an earlier DLTJ entry that pointed to a blog entry by Michael Cairns talking about yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article about custom textbooks, which in turn pointed to a blog posting by Alison Pendergast excerpting a Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus story about this agreement. (Whew! It was a long trail, but well worth it!) Key points in the agreement:

The Complex World of the Textbook

Who knew the college textbook marketplace could be so complex? The agents in this ecosystem and their interests are so intertwined that as a whole it poses a massive amount of inertia for those who attempt to change the marketplace. I’ve been involved for about a year with an effort to change the textbook ecosystem for Ohio college students, and I am amazed at the complexity with each new layer of the onion that is peeled back. I thought it worthwhile to document my findings here and ask what insights others have.

“Object Reuse and Exchange” Beta Specifications Now Available

Carl Lagoze of Cornell University and Herbert Van de Sompel of Los Alamos National Laboratory announced the release of the beta form of the ORE specifications yesterday. Here is the full text of their announcement:

New Blog for Ebooks in Libraries: “No Shelf Required”

Sue Polanka, head of reference and instruction at the main library of Wright State University, sent a message to the OhioLINK membership today about a new blog she is moderating called No Shelf Required:

No Shelf Required provides a forum for discussion among librarians, publishers, distributors, aggregators, and others interested in the publishing and information industry. The discussion will focus on the issues, concepts, current and future practices of Ebook publishing including: finding, selecting, licensing, policies, business models, usage (tracking), best practices, and promotion/marketing. The concept of the blog is to have open discussion, propose ideas, and provide feedback on the best ways to implement Ebooks in library settings. The blog will be a moderated discussion with timely feature articles and product reviews available for discussion and comment.

Seeking Details on Websites for Digital Textbooks

This topic is a bit far from “library technology” but part of my day job at OhioLINK has been involved with research on digital textbooks. To that end, I’ve been looking at companies that sell a digital form of the printed-and-bound textbook. The sites that I’ve found are summarized below; I would appreciate comments (public or private) that list other sites that you know about so this list can be as comprehensive as possible. Also, if you happen to be researching the same area, please get in touch if you are interested in comparing notes. The list is broken down into two parts, and the companies are listed alphabetically within each part.