Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Brewster Kahle: The Closing of Library Services... The Opening of Library Services"

I'm currently enjoying a (constantly buffering....) stream of Brewster Kahle's John Seely Brown Symposium on Technology and Society keynote it's an interesting lecture which, hopefully, will be online soon. Here's some key points that I found noteworthy:
  • Because of licensing we are actually becoming more closed, even though we're making things available online - publishers have too much power
  • Staff are service-orientated but not IT service-orientated
  • Libraries have a preference for outsourcing service development rather than developing in-house
  • It's likely that libraries who develop in-house will specialise (eg MIT in engineering resources)
  • Open data leads to better data mining [Hmm, there's an assumption that vendors data is not open, which might be true of some but not necessarily 'Google-type' companies]
  • Open books = easy Print on Demand (at $3) [One of my personal faves]
  • He says you can scan and store a page (inc Metadata) for 10cents [for how long...?!]
  • Multiple repositories are safer than one 'trusted' repository [LOCKSS-like]
  • It's just as easy to migrate 100 movies as 1000.
  • JPEG2000 is the IA's choice for high-resolution archival versions.
  • Trying to get rights for out of print materials is difficult - lack of answers because there's lack of interest.... unless something suddenly 'turns' valuable.
  • Being accessible does not mean being 'cost free' [hmm, this kind of contradicts the idea about libraries becoming more closed because of their relationship with publishers]
  • Libraries can build an open world by:
  1. Scan a core set: 1million book library = $30m and then you do 'scan on demand' - and this could be funded through purchasing budgets [maybe in the US...!]
  2. Free access to Public Domain, Integrate in-print products from publishers as necessary, and then loan out-of-print (digital files) out [how this loaning will work with in-copyright material is still unclear]
  3. Encourage bulk access to allow computational reuse (such as AI learning, translation etc) - this is the same as 'research' access. This requires open contracts.
  • This is our 'responsibility as libraries'
Digital lending will be a really interesting application of DRM and DRM-like technologies. It'll be interesting to see how things develop in this area - there's much to learn from video/audio loaning services. His idea of making Library Books "look different" to make them guilt ware or personally tied to an individual.

It's interesting to hear Brewster talk about the creation of Libraries, but his approach is totally dependent on 'others' creating services built on the principle of Libraries as Data Archives. At the start of the talk he describes how libraries are becoming more like "spaces to think" and it's this 'value-added' that we need to give in the digital world along side the traditional world. To accomplish this we have to explore whether Libraries can offer actual mediation to data and resources rather just the resources themselves.

Note from the Panel Session: John Seely Brown discussed how 'value added' information (such as annotations) are going to be more important and how such meta-information enhances the material - including by speeding up the processing of that information. [Think Uber-CliffsNotes....]

More information on the talk here.

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