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#16 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:38 PM

Books aren't that fragile. Obviously you don't want to keep around volumes that are falling apart, and as stated earlier, responsible culling of collections is plainly necessary. (The transfers to fiche were disastrous - horrible to read, horrible to use.)

#17 California

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:56 PM

Books aren't that fragile. Obviously you don't want to keep around volumes that are falling apart, and as stated earlier, responsible culling of collections is plainly necessary. (The transfers to fiche were disastrous - horrible to read, horrible to use.)

The use of acidic paper from the mid-1800s to 1980s was a disaster for preservation of books. The National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, has awarded many, many millions in grants, starting in the Reagan administration, to preserve crumbling books. For an interesting report on preservation problems:
http://www.clir.org/.../pub82text.html
If you google: NEH acid paper books
you'll see lots of reports on this major problem and what NEH has tried to do about it.

#18 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:23 PM

Thanks, California, but I wasn't talking about books that are falling apart (apologies for repeating myself). I'm talking about the discarding of viable and valuable books and periodicals, which has certainly happened.

No question that it's important to keep up with changing times. But the old one about throwing the baby out with the bathwater invariably comes to mind when this subject arises.

#19 Helene

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:28 PM

Electronic storage is significantly better than microfiche, and many magazines today are published in electronic format as well as print format.

#20 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:49 PM

My comment on the move to microfiche not turning out so well was a comment on your post noting that libraries had been moving material to fiche for decades. As I noted in response, that decision had its drawbacks. The move of print publications online is still very much in early days. No doubt eventually the electronic environment will look much different - the Internet, after all, is still very young. In the meantime, it is worth watching closely what libraries are doing with their books and periodicals and how such materials are being maintained.

#21 Helene

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:59 PM

My only point was that transferring from print formats for books, magazines, and records to another media isn't new and occurred before there was any thought of electronic storage on a large scale, and that lack of storage capacity before community services expansion was the driver for it. Not that many books in the big picture would fit into the physical footprint of where the computers are in either of my local libraries.

#22 Quiggin

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:01 PM

A librarian I talked to said that when things are in offsite storage it means they've in some way been already been culled or weeded.

Part of the problem are the lack finding guides to get to the interesting stuff. Nicholson Baker poined out that when card catalogues were tossed, valuable informal notes fields - years of pencilled in comments - disappeared too. If new notes fields could be added to electonic catalogues where librarians and serious readers, such as those who contribute to Wikipedia - could leave comments about the particular value of an edition or variant or translation, this would be a great help in calling books out of storage.

The migration of print to electronic is very spotty and will continue to be so. Getting in-depth material for serious research is quite difficult, much of it now behind very pricey pay walls.

The problem with microfilmed materials is that the quality was very poor, and libraries tossed out the originals before they could be electroncially scanned. Some of the historical New York Times looks as though it came from previous selected clippings, from what used to be called newspaper morgues.

#23 Helene

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:12 PM

Happily, electronic print files don't have to suffer from the same degradation as microfiche and microfilm. (Graphics and photographs are another story.) The upside of many electronic formats is that they can be printed out as pages or books in print-to-demand services.

Access is immediate or close to it and doesn't require retrieval, inter-library loans, or intra-library physical transfers.

As a teenager, I was allowed to go into NYC or to anywhere in Bergen County on my own, if my destination was a library. I spent many happy hours in the Performing Arts Library. Now I'd be told to get it electronically and never leave the house.

#24 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:19 PM

My point was that said transfers did not always work and were undertaken hastily, as Quiggin notes. Lack of storage capacity was the proffered excuse and often, not always it was true, but the end result was the same.

Part of the problem are the lack finding guides to get to the interesting stuff. Nicholson Baker poined out that when card catalogues were tossed, valuable informal notes fields - years of pencilled in comments - disappeared too. If new notes fields could be added to electonic catalogues where librarians and serious readers, such as those who contribute to Wikipedia - could leave comments about the particular value of an edition or variant or translation, this would be a great help in calling books out of storage.


It would certainly help. No doubt there will one day be an electronic equivalent to browsing freely through the stacks, but we' re not there yet.

#25 Quiggin

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:44 PM

Access is immediate or close to it and doesn't require retrieval.


More and more of it is behind expensive pay walls. Small cites of law texts come through Westlaw & Lexis at $50 a gulp, and much of periodical storage is in Jstor and good luck in paying for that. And none of the original content providers seem to share in any of the royalties for their work.

What's happening here has already happened in other fields:

Right now, if you want to read the published results of the biomedical research that your own tax dollars paid for, all you have to do is visit the digital archive of the National Institutes of Health. There you’ll find thousands of articles on the latest discoveries in medicine and disease, all free of charge.

A new bill in Congress wants to make you pay for that, thank you very much. The Research Works Act would prohibit the NIH from requiring scientists to submit their articles to the online database. Taxpayers would have to shell out $15 to $35 to get behind a publisher’s paid site to read the full research results. A Scientific American blog said it amounts to paying twice.


http://www.propublic...ehind-pay-walls

#26 California

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

A new bill in Congress wants to make you pay for that, thank you very much. The Research Works Act would prohibit the NIH from requiring scientists to submit their articles to the online database. Taxpayers would have to shell out $15 to $35 to get behind a publisher’s paid site to read the full research results. A Scientific American blog said it amounts to paying twice


The Research Works Act is dead, and the sponsors and Elsevier have withdrawn support. Whew!
http://www.slate.com...ss_threat_.html

A great source for free legal materials: the Cornell University Legal Information Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court established a direct feed to them in the early 90s (pre-Web) and the site has been greatly expanded since then.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/
For free access to legislation and legislative reports, use Thomas, run by the Library of Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php

#27 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:35 PM

Small cites of law texts come through Westlaw & Lexis at $50 a gulp, and much of periodical storage is in Jstor and good luck in paying for that.


Tell me about it.....

#28 California

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:44 PM


Small cites of law texts come through Westlaw & Lexis at $50 a gulp, and much of periodical storage is in Jstor and good luck in paying for that.


Tell me about it.....

JSTOR now makes available for free all the public domain articles in its collection (i.e., pre-1923):
http://about.jstor.o...journal-content

I know those restrictions to copyrighted material are frustrating, but copyright is the issue. JSTOR buys licenses from the journals and libraries buy licenses from JSTOR to make the material available to their authorized users. At a college/university library, those authorized users are the faculty, students, and staff.

I don't know if this is true in all states, but in many I know about, any resident of the state can walk into a state college/university and get a library card that gives them access to the collection, at least on-site, if not also on-line. At libraries I'm familiar with, you can access the on-line databases (including JSTOR) at the terminals in the library. There might be a modest charge (about $25) for the card to cover their extra administrative costs, but this is an option that might solve some problems.

#29 puppytreats

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:33 PM


A new bill in Congress wants to make you pay for that, thank you very much. The Research Works Act would prohibit the NIH from requiring scientists to submit their articles to the online database. Taxpayers would have to shell out $15 to $35 to get behind a publisher’s paid site to read the full research results. A Scientific American blog said it amounts to paying twice


The Research Works Act is dead, and the sponsors and Elsevier have withdrawn support. Whew!
http://www.slate.com...ss_threat_.html

A great source for free legal materials: the Cornell University Legal Information Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court established a direct feed to them in the early 90s (pre-Web) and the site has been greatly expanded since then.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/
For free access to legislation and legislative reports, use Thomas, run by the Library of Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php


This constitutes only a tiny portion of the legal universe, and often, not the portion that is necessary....

#30 California

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:59 PM

This constitutes only a tiny portion of the legal universe, and often, not the portion that is necessary....

If you scroll down on the Cornell site, they have links to an enormous range of resources on-line for free: federal lower courts, state courts and legislation, Code of Federal Regulations, etc. Most states now have their legal material (statutes and court opinions) on-line, at least for more recent decisions. It's taken awhile to get older things on-line, because they were not in a digitized format. But the increase in free on-line legal material in the last 15 years is quite impressive.

For things you can't find free on-line, the best route is a local college/university. Even the ones without law schools typically have Lexis and/or Westlaw in their on-line databases which users in the library can access. Those are stripped down a bit (excluding most of the international material, e.g.), but have all federal and state cases, as well as law journals.

None of this is as convenient as having full access to Lexis or Westlaw, but that convenience is what subscribers are paying for.


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