Jump to content


The New York Public Libraryproposed changes


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#31 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 825 posts

Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:48 PM

California

But the increase in free on-line legal material in the last 15 years is quite impressive.


Expanding on this, the thing is that Westlaw and Lexis gathered and published content created by the state as part of a sort of reciprocal agreement. West & Lexis used to charge nominal fees for access to print copies of case law, but now the online fees are exorbitant. In order to really research a court opinion you need to skip back though years and years of precedent cases to make full sense of the court's reasoning. Likewise the costs of using treatises on various disciplines of the law have increased several fold in the last decade or so, as hundreds of medium-sized and mom and pop law publishers have been consolidated into two or three giants.

Paywalls are great and necessary to encourage new research and pay for investigative journalism, as you do with New York Times, WSJ and Financial Times subscription support. But it's unfair to have to pay more than modest fees, say $1 to $3 a hit, for content created long ago for virtually nothing.

Regarding the NYPL, what would be great is if a foundation were to set up a project to inventory and describe their valuable Slavic and Asian and other holdings - sort of as the Suda was to Byzantine scholarship.

#32 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,342 posts

Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:06 PM

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.


I've chosen to not have an espresso machine at home so that I have to leave the house to get a latte -- if I had an espresso machine and a copier I'd never go anywhere except the theater.

#33 Anthony_NYC

Anthony_NYC

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 290 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:01 AM

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.

Actually, those comments are even easier to incorporate into computerized catalogs, though they weren't always in the early days of conversion. And many library catalogs nowadays also give users the ability to write comments and reviews of items in the Library. (They never were supposed to write on the old catalog cards!) As somebody who has spent thousands of hours over many years at NYPL and other research libraries, I'd say that both the quantity and the quality of information available in WorldCat and individual library catalogs as compared to the old card catalogs is fantastically high, and in the last ten years or so has only gotten better and better.

However--and this is a big qualification--the web interface for most libraries' catalogs is just terrible, and they all seem getting worse (as at NYPL, where they seem to be catering to the children in preference to the adults). People in love with technology for technology's sake seem to want to treat catalogs as toys rather than tools. The librarians themselves complain bitterly about this, so I have no idea why it's happening. If you're doing a lot of research, I recommend asking the librarian for information about getting telnet access to the catalog. It gives you exactly the same information, but this now old-fashioned format actually makes searching the catalog a lot easier.

#34 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 825 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:16 PM

Anthony_NYC

I'd say that both the quantity and the quality of information available in WorldCat and individual library catalogs as compared to the old card catalogs is fantastically high, and in the last ten years or so has only gotten better and better.


And as much as Amazon has changed things not always for the better, the reviews are frequently valuable for sorting through editions and translations.

I do see the problem in that the knowledge of librarians is being lost as they retire - things they knew such as the differences between Webster's Second and Third International and they compliment each other rather one superceding the other - or between various editions of musical scores, say Tchaikovsky without Drigo's revisions. Or between Nabokov's 1964 and 1975 translation of Eugene Onegin - though there is an extensive Wikipedia entry on this.

The Suda online has an interesting catalog format, representing thousands of years of notes and overnotes - an entry of which I've abbreviated here -

Headword: Οὔρια θεῖτε
Translated headword: you are running before the winds, you are running with a fair wind
Vetting Status: low
Translation:
You [pl.] are dancing.
Greek Original:
Οὔρια θεῖτε: ὀρχεῖσθε.
Notes:
The headword phrase comes from Aristophanes, Lysistrata 550 (a choral passage), and also reappears in the Suda at tau 472.
Despite the gloss given here, the phrase in context actually means 'you are faring well in the contest' (Henderson).
Translated by: Kyle Helms on 16 June 2010@09:22:12.
Notes:
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (tweaks) on 16 June 2010
David Whitehead (expanded note; tweaks; raised status) on 17 June 2010)


In the notes field of the entry on Adam is this comment: The great bulk of this entry -- 104 lines out of 117 in the printed edition -- is a tour de force of polemic by an unidentifiable scholar quite outside the type of neutral reticence which characterises most of the contributors to the Suda.

#35 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 783 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:02 PM

Libraries are being squeezed from many different directions. Full text journal articles are a wonderful resource but come with a real sting in the tail.

The Lairds of Learning
How did academic publishers acquire these feudal powers?
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 30th August 2011

"You might resent Murdoch’s paywall policy, in which he charges £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times and Sunday Times. But at least in that period you can read and download as many articles as you like. Reading a single article published by one of Elsevier’s journals will cost you $31.50. Springer charges Eur34.95, Wiley-Blackwell, $42. Read ten and you pay ten times. And the journals retain perpetual copyright. You want to read a letter printed in 1981? That’ll be $31.50.

Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). But they too have been hit by cosmic fees. The average cost of an annual subscription to a chemistry journal is $3,792. Some journals cost $10,000 a year or more to stock. The most expensive I’ve seen, Elsevier’s Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, is $20,930. Though academic libraries have been frantically cutting subscriptions to make ends meet, journals now consume 65% of their budgets, which means they have had to reduce the number of books they buy. Journal fees account for a significant component of universities’ costs, which are being passed to their students."

http://www.monbiot.c...ds-of-learning/

#36 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:51 PM

I wrote off NYPL, nonspecialized branch libraries decades ago. I can never get there when open, and hardly anything valuable remains there.

The law requires courts to have law libraries. One can obtain Westlaw and Lexis access there. However, many of the books, such as treatises, disappeared.

#37 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,007 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:27 PM

The law requires courts to have law libraries. One can obtain Westlaw and Lexis access there. However, many of the books, such as treatises, disappeared.

This is why I would have been thrilled to have had online access in graduate school: in the business school library, almost every relevant volume of tax case law reference books were missing from the shelves. Granted, it was a temporary library without buzzers and beepers, but the only way I could get through my tax research course was to hie it uptown to the law school library. The only thing that saved me was that most of my fellow students didn't make the leap to leave the b-school "campus" and go to the main campus, a really easy subway ride away. Now that wouldn't work, because they moved the b-school to the main campus.

I suspect the b-school library had all of the law school books missing from the law school library.

#38 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,342 posts

Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:24 PM

... Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). But they too have been hit by cosmic fees. The average cost of an annual subscription to a chemistry journal is $3,792. Some journals cost $10,000 a year or more to stock. The most expensive I’ve seen, Elsevier’s Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, is $20,930. Though academic libraries have been frantically cutting subscriptions to make ends meet, journals now consume 65% of their budgets, which means they have had to reduce the number of books they buy. Journal fees account for a significant component of universities’ costs, which are being passed to their students."

http://www.monbiot.c...ds-of-learning/


Inflation has extended to dance journals as well -- the subscription rates for journals like Dance Chronicle have really escalated, with the publishers assuming that university libraries will pay almost anything. Those of us that have had long-term personal subscriptions are really being squeezed -- there is no distinction between an individual and an institutional subscription.

#39 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 825 posts

Posted 14 May 2012 - 01:43 PM

Long, two-part analysis of the New York Public Library plans, Lions in Winter, in N+1:

Whenever I asked the administration about the direction they had chosen, I was told the plan was fundamentally democratic because it gave the people what they want—and what the people want could be determined through the endless surveys and focus groups conducted by the library’s consultants and its own internal strategy department.

When librarians expressed concerns about the renovation, they got the same response. This constituted a huge shift in the library’s decision-making process. Where before members of the library’s staff were involved in an open process at almost all levels, with an internal committee of librarians parallel to a faculty senate at a university, now a few librarians are interviewed by consultants, and senior management makes virtually all large-scale decisions on its own. An internal culture of collegial debate, protected by an understanding that senior librarians had a form of tenure which gave them security to express themselves candidly, has been replaced at the library by what my interviews suggest is a culture of secrecy and fear.

...

Leave the heavy lifting to the folks at Harvard and McKinsey (and the quants in our commodities division), the financiers are saying; for the rest of you, there will be lovely sun-filled spots to check your email.


http://nplusonemag.com/lions-in-winter

#40 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,852 posts

Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:26 PM

Thanks, Quiggin. Another quote:

We assume that the internet can only make it easier and cheaper to access information, but what the internet really does, when it’s commercialized, is commodify information. In the future, publishers will be able to determine exactly how often a specific book or article is accessed, try a few different prices, and charge whatever turns out to be most profitable. If that profit can be generated by selling advertising, then the book will be made available “for free”; if not, users will be forced to pay. In the case of romance novels, this means “ad-supported books”; in the case of scholarly journals, if you don’t have an institution to support you, it means paying $5.99 to “rent” a single article for one day, the price currently being charged by Cambridge University Press.



#41 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 783 posts

Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:13 PM

Nonetheless, almost every single former librarian with whom I spoke opposed the plan to renovate the main branch. Why? Ann Thornton, the system’s newly appointed top librarian, suggested that the concerns of former librarians are due to the fact that, as she put it, “Change is really difficult.” The change the older librarians had trouble dealing with, however, was not technological. It was the change in the library’s mission. No former staff member said to me, “The administration doesn’t care about books.” Rather, they said, “The administration doesn’t care about research.”


It is frightening how widespread this attitude is. When staff disagree with a shift in underlying values of an organization management says the individuals are not flexible enough and can't cope with change. And when dissenting staff resign management are not concerned because the resignations help reduce staff numbers through "natural attrition".

And all that experience and knowledge those staff members have is lost to the organization. . . .

#42 Kathleen O'Connell

Kathleen O'Connell

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 736 posts

Posted 17 May 2012 - 06:36 AM

Quiggin -- many thanks for that N+1 link! It was refreshing to read something on the NYPL issue that neither simply wailed in horror at the planned changes nor shrugged off the real losses those changes will entail. I especially appreciated Petersen's focus on what makes an institution genuinely "democratic."

As it happens, Robert Darnton (whose proposal for a national digital library Petersen discusses in part 2) has published a defense of the NYPL plan in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books.

And re all the consultants: one hopes that the CityTime scandal--not to mention the the ever-expanding budgets for the NYCAPS and [size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Emergency Communications Transformation Program projects, both still uncompleted a decade after they were begun--has inspired both the NYPL's management and the relevant NYC officials to review their proposals with an appropriate degree of rigor and skepticism. [/font][/size]


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):