Either a classmate or my professor recently linked to an article about the inclusion of online, freely available books in library collections and their catalogs. Unfortunately, search in our online education environment is difficult, and so I’m not able to credit the referrer or reference the article at this time. My impression of the article was that libraries are not consistently incorporating these resources into their collections and catalogs. I am not aware of any central location that libraries might find these resources, in all their forms (i.e. Open Access, Public Domain, Creative Commons licensed, etc.), facilitating their inclusion. Selection aids exist for other resources and assist librarians in the time-consuming task of selection. Perhaps, selection aids for freely available digitized books would be helpful.

I searched online a bit to determine if the libraries that I use are incorporating some of these books and to see if I could find any selection aids specific to this group of resources. I looked for three books, that I found freely available online, in my local library catalog, in my university catalog, and in WorldCat.

All three catalogs offered online access to Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (found in the Open Library, Project Gutenberg, and HathiTrust) that is in the Public Domain. I then looked for Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (found in the CC Wiki). The physical book was cataloged in my local library, it was not in my university library (though another book of Doctorow’s was available in print), and WorldCat linked to an e-book in Library and Archives Canada Electronic Collection. Finally, I searched for the book, Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution, freely available from O’Reilly Open Books. WorldCat was the only catalog with the title, and it had an e-book listing. Open Library, HathiTrust, nor Project Gutenberg provided access to this book. Of course the exclusion of any of these materials from my local public library and from my university library could be attributed to other reasons. It is possible that the books did not meet other selection criteria.

The Hilton C. Buley Library at Southern Connecticut University lists Open Access resources including books. Several of the resources, such as Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, and The Online Books Page, provide RSS feeds that might be useful to any librarians interested in adding these books to their collection. The Internet Archive Text allows user ratings that could aid in selection. Project Gutenberg lists the top 100 most downloaded books and authors. And, some of the resources are subject or area specific. Librarians working in areas like young adult or children might select resources available from Literature for Children. Librarians selecting for particular subjects like agriculture or environment and sustainability could find materials in the United Nations University Publications.

There may be some copyright issues to consider with some forms of these freely available books, though. Looking at the University of Michigan’s treatment of the O’Reilly book mentioned earlier, it looks like this issue may be avoided by merely linking to the online version, thus avoiding the “copy.”


I wandered over to the Design Observer last night and followed a long trail of cool collections. These design collections were interesting not only for their content, but I also thought about the way non-librarians (assuming that they did not enlist a librarian’s help) addressed metadata and copyright issues.

A Brooklyn design firm, Fwis, has created an online collection of book covers. This collection focuses on the design of covers. They include the designer in the metadata and the subject of comments are mainly design related. Certainly before the Internet but also sometimes now, I have chosen books based on the cover design. Some of these books I now consider favorites. Their copyright statement is a blanket one: “All covers posted are the copyright of their respective holders.”

An online archive of communication design is presented by the professional association for design, AIGA. The collection includes AIGA competition selections from categories like advertisements, commercial printing, communication graphics, and book design in the years 1924-2008. They provide a lightbox and allow users to annotate and share items in the collection. The collection can be filtered by category. Book design metadata differs depending on the item but can include information about the typographer, the printer/binder, paper, jacket designer, and engraver. I could not find any copyright statements here.

Not coming to a theater near you” presents a collection of movie credit sequences by Saul Bass. He designed the credits for movies like Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, and a few Hitchcock films. The credit images from each film are accompanied by a short description of the credits and the film itself. I found this copyright statement, “All images, unless otherwise noted, are taken from a Google image search and are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law. When optional, screen captures are taken from DVDs. Some images taken with consent from DVDBeaver.”

A collection of book trade labels is available from Seven Roads. Information about the labels include: institution (publisher, printer, binder, importer, distributer, seller), location, size, contributor, and occasionally, the history. The collection can be browsed by geography or topic. Topical collections include bibliomorphic, fauna, ships, and readers. I did not see a notice of copyright or use.

Randy Cohen and Nigel Holmes of the New York Times have created a literary map of Manhattan, indicating the location of book settings and passages on the map. There are 99 books indexed and marked from authors like Edith Wharton, Johnathon Franzen, and Mark Twain.

Lastly, I learned of an open access design journal, International Journal of Design, for anyone interested.

I read Nesdill’s “Atkinson’s Control Zone: Ten Years Later” today. I see that the paper is dedicated to the memory of Ross Atkinson. I wonder if he were alive today, he might reconsider the terms he used to describe the library’s role in scholarly publishing. The connotations of the “control zone” term seem the opposite of what we are now trying to achieve. Today, we give these systems titles that imply quite the opposite like “open access” and “open archives initiative.” Maybe it would be appropriate to call these the “organized zones” or the “quality zones” as opposed to the the “untidy zones” or the “suspect zones.” She provides an nice graphic (fig. 1), though it would be interesting to see her take on unpublished, self-archived items like preprints, thesis, dissertations, course materials, learning objects, and institutional records, and how they might enter the “zone.”

Personally, I think the shift to open access is unavoidable, and it’s a change that we might embrace and foster. For another class, I’ve been reading Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science and Cleveland’s “The Twilight of Hierarchy: Speculations on the Global Information Society.” I think both of these authors make points that are applicable here. Wheatley draws on natural science to inform organizational practices and states, “However long we may drag our feet, we will be forced to accept that information- freely generated and freely exchanged- is our only hope for organization. If we fail to recognize its generative properties, we will be unable to manage in this new world.” Commenting on the implications of a global information society Cleveland writes, “information by nature cannot give rise to exchange transactions, only to sharing transactions. Things are exchanged: if I give you a flower or sell you my automobile, you have it and I don’t. But if I sell you an idea or give you a fact, we both have it.” If information is a different animal (and it appears that it is), then it will require that we treat it differently than we have treated other commodities. We may have to adapt to its intrinsic characteristics. Open access might be an adaptation to the nature of information.

In addition to the collections noted in the previous post, other Oklahoma libraries have digitized their archival collections and made them freely accessible online. The University of Oklahoma Library has many fascinating items in their digital collections. They have digitized title pages from the History of Science Collections that date back to the 16th century. This could be a real find for typography buffs or those interested in the historical author autographs. The Western History Collections is also accessible. This special collection is rich with transcripts of interviews with Oklahoma’s Native Americans about the history and culture of their tribes. In addition, there are interviews of Oklahomans from 1831-1936 regarding the settlement of Oklahoma and the Indian territories as well as the life conditions and conduct during this period. Although the Photograph Archives also has a heavy American Indian focus, it includes images of Oklahoma’s land run and lotteries, western outlaws, agriculture, and the petroleum industry as well.

Photos from the Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

rose1812.jpg Wyatt Earp 1866 jesse james 1875 Jesse James 1875

Geronimo 1900 Geronimo 1900 Cheyenne woman and child Cheyenne woman and child

The University of Tulsa McFarlin Library digital collections include Tulsa Race Riot images, maps of the American West, and resources for the study of the Creek (Muskogee) language. The Creek language resources offer a talking dictionary and written and spoken (recorded) versions of Creek folktales like “The Boy who Turned into a Snake,” and “The Origin of Corn.” The American West maps date back to Thomas Jeffreys’ 1776 American Atlas. Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s 1810 Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana, from his expedition to find the headwaters of the “Arkansaw” and Red Rivers, can also be found here.

Images from Special Collections, University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Creek drawing from 1736 titled “”Ta-fo-lope,” the Creek word for butterfly 1736 Creek drawing titled “Ta-fo-lope,” the Creek word for butterfly

Pike’s 1810 Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana Pike’s 1810 Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana

In October, the Online Education Database listed 250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives. The resources are listed alphabetically by state and are mainly open access. There are two listings for Oklahoma: Electronic Publishing Center and Sooner Stories which is now Oklahoma Crossroads. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) Sooner Stories Archive contains online exhibits titled “Rationing in World War II,” “Farm Security and Administration,” “Construction of the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion,” and the “Oklahoma State Capitol.” My favorite items in this collection, though, are creepy Oklahoma stories and pictures in “Skeletons in our closet” and the great multimedia presentation of “Bonnie & Clyde in Oklahoma.” Among other rich resources, ODL’s newer service, Oklahoma Crossroads, links to the above exhibits as well as to collections including Tulsa Race Riot documents and images and a database of Oklahoma author profiles.

OSU’s Electronic Publishing Center digital collections include items like: the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the first fifty years of our state’s magazine, Oklahoma Today, From Warrior to Saint: The Journey of David Pendleton Oakerhater, Indian Claims Commission Decisions, and the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Chronicles of Oklahoma. Dating back to 1923, the Chronicles of Oklahoma contains colorful stories, excerpts from letters and diaries, and resident profiles. In Volume 2(1), the origins of county names in Oklahoma are explained. A born and raised Okie, I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t aware that Oklahoma is a combination of two Choctaw words, “Okla” meaning people and “Humma” meaning red. Another article‘s description of early Oklahoma folklore was particularly poignant. The author ends with, “I deem it one of my greatest privileges to teach my students that we must not let the first stories of our earliest people pass into oblivion; that we have one of the richest heritages on earth, the record of which is a combination composed of ballads and legends in which the heart beats of Indian warrior, man and maid, the roving cow man, the sturdy pioneer—all beat in steady succession to the music of life itself. The result of it all is the finished symphony—the symphony of Oklahoma itself.”

This 1917 photo, from ODL’s “Skeletons in our closet,” was taken of the newly finished rotunda in the Oklahoma Capitol building. phantom2_02.jpg

When I think about the semantic web, I think of a richer web that has meaning and shows relationships. This is probably a little too simplistic, but it’s easier for me to think of it in this way and then build on that definition. In this video, visionary Tim Berners-Lee provides more insight into the semantic web concept. He describes an interaction between humans and computers that allows for a greater manipulation of data. This in turn effects and enhances not only personal endeavors, but it also provides science and medicine with tools that will significantly advance treatments and discoveries. If I follow this correctly, human and computer interaction is what underlies the meaning and relationships that I previously considered the semantic web.

Discussions of the semantic web usually include RDF. In the video, Berners-Lee says (roughly speaking) that RDF is to data what HTML is to documents. Our class has collected a few resources on RDF at Diigo. It’s described here as a framework “created to provide a language for describing things on the web.” Despite the information that the class resources provide, I was still having trouble grasping how RDF metadata fit into the bigger picture of the semantic web. I found this ppt from a fellow Diigo user that describes RDF’s place in the architecture of the semantic web in a way that makes sense to me:

The first layer is RDF (metadata): allows facts to be asserted such as “person X is named ‘Drew.”

The second layer (here’s the meaning) is the RDF schema: lets you describe vocabularies and use them to describe things such as “person X is a living person.”

The third layer (here’s the relationships) is OWL (web ontology language-an acronym that makes sense to friends of Winnie the Pooh): which lets you describe the relationships between vocabularies such as “persons in schema A are the same thing as users in schema B.”

And so, I think, the point is that if all web documents (created by humans) adhered to this framework, computers could then bring all that information together at incredible speeds. All that information, located on the web, coordinated by computers for human consumption.

As Berners-Lee points out, this really has incredible implications for biomedicine, where different disciplines merge to prevent, treat, and cure disease. This article, in BMC Bioinformatics, illustrates a possible scenario where a semantic web is utilized in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This sort of information is compelling because it shows a real use case that might just motivate institutions, groups, and individuals to adopt semantic web standards.


I think I’ll engage in a very libraryish activity and assign an acronym to the class associated with this blog- from here on out Design and Implementation of Web-Based Information Systems will be referred to as DIWBIS (pronounced dew-biss) for the sake of simplicity. So in DIWBIS this week, we are to choose a wiki that we feel we can contribute to in a worthwhile manner. We have a few to choose from, or we may also come up with own. I’ve looked at the list, and I like the Butler WikiRef, Butler University Libraries’ Reference Wiki. Since I have been researching open access and because one of the stated functions of this wiki is the “empowering of reference users,” I would like to add an entry on an open access resource. For instance, I could add an entry on OAISTER or one on DOAJ (directory of open access journals). Free access to scholarly information is empowering. I think these resources suffer from a lack of promotion. I’d like to spread the word.


image courtesy of PLoS

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