Musings of Katey Lee

Thoughts of a MLIS student…

One more fun thing:

Posted by Katey Lee on December 15, 2008

Improve your vocabulary while helping feed the hungry!

FreeRice.com donates 20 grains of rice for each correct answer to vocabulary questions.  You can set it so you know your grand total of donated rice, or how much you donated this round.  This game is addictive — I made it to level 41 before I remembered I wanted to post it, not play it! 

FreeRice.com is associated with the Berkman Center For Internet and Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World World Food Programme.

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Thank you!

Posted by Katey Lee on December 15, 2008

I just wanted to say thank you to this class this semester.  Your discussions helped me understand the readings.  Your links helped me find many new digital collections that I spent many hours exploring.

 

Some specifics:

 

Thank you, Lyle, for making the Google reader feed for this class.  It was a lifesaver!  It was so easy to pull it up and keep on top of all the blog posts because of you.

 

Thank you, Doc Martens, for spreading the joy of digital collections.  You always had a link handy to something new, amusing, or interesting.

 

Thank you, George, for trying to collect our resources in one place.  Your dedication is inspiring.

 

Thank you, Iona, Wendy, Claire, and Sabrina for being the only people to post the week of Chapter 10.  Your discussion on money, access, and information ownership was very insightful.

 

Thank you, everyone, who participated in the virtual, hybrid, or digital library conversation on the general specialty group board.  It raised many good points that I’d wondered about, myself.  Ditto to the people who discussed vendor influences in libraries.

 

Doc Martens was right – it takes a class together to build knowledge of digital collections.  I’m thankful that I had this class to help me along.

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Posted by Katey Lee on December 15, 2008

Headless at the Theme Park
Dadipark 2007

by Tom Kirsch

 

Opacity

[Urban Ruins]

Almost too late, I found an amazing digital collection of photographs.  They’re of abandoned places, mostly in Europe.  The sole photographer is Tom Kirsch, a graphic designer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the dangerous yet beautiful ruins.  The collection was started when he wanted to share his pictures with others in 2002, and grew as he uploaded more galleries from his personal collection.  To date there are 107 locations with individual galleries.  His photography is beautiful and the images are haunting.  I recommend exploring some of the amusement park, church, or graveyard images.

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My Paper

Posted by Katey Lee on December 5, 2008

My paper was on the ideal digital collection for collectors.  There are very few digital collections that allow collectors to put images or video of their collection online and share it with others.  I thought that a good way to examine them would be through looking at digital/physical collections like those of Webkinz, TY 2.0 Beanie Babies, or Neopets.  Those few collections have both the physical stuffed animal or toy, with a digital avatar children use to play with online.  While the adult version wouldn’t involve games or toys, I thought that the sense of community that comes with the Webkinz and company, the way that collectables add a layer of satisfaction with the digital version, and the way that everyone in the group can show off their digital versions to everyone else does make it “ideal” for collectors.

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Where are all the E-Books?

Posted by Katey Lee on December 4, 2008

“What Happened to the E-book Revolution? : The Gradual Integration of E-books into Academic Libraries” by Lynn Connaway and Heather Wicht wonders why libraries don’t have larger collections of e-books.  After all, the book and the library go hand in hand – so why aren’t e-books and digital libraries married and having little digital babies yet?  While focusing on academic libraries, the article has a lot of general history about e-books and a lot of the reasons that academic libraries aren’t using e-books are the same reasons public libraries don’t have expansive collections of e-books. 

 

Project Gutenberg and the Million Book Project began as early as 1971.  The Internet Archive included many collections of e-documents.  These projects popularized e-books.  However, it wasn’t until the Internet became a household requirement that vendors and publishers considered selling e-books.  Beginning in 1999, e-books were marketed towards libraries and students.  Software, access tools, and availability varied greatly between vendors.  There were some setbacks when an online journal provider went bankrupt in 2003.  People became aware of the fragile nature of digital media.

 

Of course, when Google began the Google Books Library Project, in a short while they managed to surpass the number of books the other vendors had digitized in 5 years.  The Google Books Library Project is the most massive book digitizing initiative to date.

 

I hadn’t realized how recently e-books had become available.  I thought they’d always been around, not that they were just born a few years ago and are finally starting to grow up.  For all of their attractive shininess – whenever, wherever availability and access – few seem to have non public-domain e-books and few seem to know how to get them.  This makes sense when you take into account the statistics: “According to Barbara Blummer, a library statistician from the Center for Computing Sciences… only 2% of public library collections include e-books,” (Connaway & Wicht). 

 

However, if you need an electronic journal or article, you can go online to EBSCOHost or Lora and find all of the ones you need.  Of course, to access EBSCOHost or Lora, you have to log in and wait for authentication before the site comes up.  With e-books, however, the authentication process varies and can be more complicated.  Electronic articles tend to resolve themselves on your screen because your computer already has the proper software; e-books often require special software just to run. 

 

“Several themes consistently appear in the literature on the barriers to the adoption and integration of e-books into library collections, services, and systems. These include the lack of e-book and hardware standards; incompatible rights and operability; unrealistic price, purchase, and access models; and limited discovery and delivery options.” (Connaway & Wicht)

 

 

Connaway, Lynn and Heather Wicht. 2007.  “What Happened to the E-book Revolution? : The Gradual Integration of E-books into Academic Libraries” Journal of Electronic Publishing, Fall 07.  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0010.302  (Accessed 3 December, 2008).

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Speculative Fiction

Posted by Katey Lee on December 4, 2008

For all that it’s supposed to be easy to find free online books, it’s rather difficult because of copyright laws.  However, if you’re “in the know” it is possible to find more current fiction archived online.  One of these places is Free Speculative Fiction Online.

 

Free Speculative Fiction Online links to science fiction and fantasy stories and authors that are available for free WITHOUT violating copyright or using pirated material.  Material is never removed from the websites where it was originally published; the links are collected in order to negate the effort of browsing multiple websites.  Several of the site’s popular sources are the Baen Free Library, Project Gutenberg SF Bookshelf, Fictionwise, the Doctor Who eBooks, and SF & Fantasy Books Online. 

 

The Baen Free Library started when authors themselves decided that the publicity of eBooks might counter piracy of their texts.  They also saw several statistics that indicated word of mouth from passing a book around or using a library’s copy actually helped sales instead of hurting them.  So, Baen authors can opt in to putting up chapters or books at the Baen Free Library and take them down whenever they feel like it (often replacing them with a different title).  The website is quite fluid, so the texts are up an indeterminate amount of time.

 

Project Gutenberg is actually responsible for making eBooks widely available for free.  However, all of their texts are Public Domain… making them much older than the Baen Free Library eBooks.  On the other hand, Fictionwise is a commercial eBook seller with a small sampling of free eBooks available to sample.  Fans of the old science fiction show Doctor Who would be glad to know that the BBC has put up 8 Doctor Who eBooks.  They can be downloaded as .pdf or read in html.  

 

SF & Fantasy Books Online has been abandoned since 2004.  However, most of the texts it links to are still there.  Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a short story that the link still works too; it goes to his website for “The Private Life of Genghis Khan”.

 

The speculative fiction eBook collectors captured books the most efficient way possible – through links.  Because average people can’t get publisher and author permission to publish short stories or novels online, it is much simpler to collect the link to the author or publisher’s website where *they* chose to publish work in eBook format.  This way there is no pirating or copyright infringement going on.

 

Free Speculative Fiction Online is well maintained and also lists (and if possible, links) to the Hugo Award Nominees and winners.  By casting a wide net the site is able to be current as well as stable.  Links are categorized by author’s last name, and all of the stories are clearly marked with whether they’re downloadable or not and the estimated the stories will remain available.  I’d recommend “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman.  It was nominated for a Hugo in 2007 for Best Short Story.

 

 

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Old Time Radio, Anyone?

Posted by Katey Lee on December 4, 2008

Being a fan of old-time radio programs (1930s – 1950s) and making a hobby of preserving old-time radio programs are two different things.  Folks who have been charmed by the sound of old-time radio programs can now easily share favorites online, especially ones that have fallen into the public domain.  However, as any hobbyist knows – lasting quality is eminently important and hard to achieve.  Technology has changed tenfold since the radio programs were originally recorded – from cassette tapes to hi-fi tapes, to CDs, to MP3 and Realtime streaming.  Fans have long networked in order to find the most reliable vendors with the best quality audio.  Other fans have worked to preserve and distribute “new” material. 

 

Lou Genco has a History of OTR’s Internet Offerings examining the affect of the Internet on old-time radio program hobbyists.  It spans from 1994, when he created his first old-time radio website, to 2008, where he discusses the results of previous transfers between technologies and laments that not many individual websites are archiving old-time radio other than “large digital repositories.”  Genco oversees the Humongous Old-Time-Radio Database Search Engine, which has lists of shows and who produced them.  His website also has multiple faqs for new and old fans concerning the technology used to transfer shows from cassette tapes to MP3.

 

Unfortunately, if you make a copy of a copy of a copy, quality decreases each time.  Original MP3s came with a loss of quality; even trying to clean them up afterward cannot retrieve the lost sounds.  Users can find and listen to old-time radio programming at the Internet Archive.  For example, here is The Amazing Interplanetary Adventure of Flash Gordon, housed there.  The file can be streamed or downloaded.  However, Old Radio World has a more user-friendly setup, although it offers fewer files. 

 

Old Radio World includes a long factual description of the program and a high-quality recording.  Comparing their Flash Gordon page to the Internet Archive’s shows a very different user interface.  Old Radio World’s page includes a picture, cast information, dates, and mentions the current Flash Gordon television show.  Internet Archive’s includes basic reference data on the show, along with several key-words that can be used to search for similar material.  Old Radio World’s page is more inviting to the casual fan, whereas the Internet Archive’s might be more useful for scholarly study.

 

Another website with an array of radio programs is the OTR Network Library (2005).  It boasts 169 series and 12,369 shows for users to listen to.  However, their formats are RealPlayer, which is not as popular now as it once was.  The OTR Network is still in beta (being tested and checked for errors/bugs), but it was last updated on November 18th, so the website is still current.  Their legal policy is clear: if the shows’ copyrights haven’t expired, then they won’t knowingly be hosted on the website.

 

All of these websites provide users with well-preserved radio shows.  The sites are easy to use and a great way to get into a fun and nostalgic-making hobby.

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Digital Multi-Media

Posted by Katey Lee on September 28, 2008

I feel like Lesk should have included subtitles like “The Mechanics of Collections”.  Reading his text is a lesson on how to digitalize something usefully.  The first three chapters cover the mechanics of scanning, different cataloging formats, and saving items digitally.  In chapter four, he focuses on the limitations of digital Multimedia.

 

I was cataloging children’s VHS tapes that had been donated to the library because nobody else wanted to.  They showed me how to use the cataloging system and told me just to put in the author, publisher, title, and year.  The subject list was filled in at my discretion.  I remember asking about what to put in there, and finally just arbitrarily picking words from the summary on the back of the tape.  For example, I labeled the animated adventures of “Tom and Jerry” with cat, mouse, comedy, Tom and Jerry, and cartoon.  I see now that that’s a very limited set of search terms.  If somebody wanted a specific short cartoon’s title, they couldn’t see if the library had it through the catalogue because none of those were documented.  It would be impossible to find a certain scene on the tape without watching it, even if you had good indications from the catalog that the scene was on there.

 

VHS tapes seem so old now – when Lesk discussed the limitations of storage on CDs and DVDs, I was thinking about the Blu Ray discs and MPEG-4.  I guess High-Definition TVs, players, and disks have really gone far since 2004 (is it really 2008?) because now, at least in the television world, there are a lot more TVs that read the 1080i versus the 720p or lower.  The Blu Ray disc holds 25 gigs on it with each layer (and apparently they can be layered to 50 gigs right now), and standard encoding is MPEG 4 as well as an enhanced MPEG 2.  Lesk is probably really happy about the Blu Ray discs because of how much information they can hold – there is no longer a cap on storage for digital media other than cost.  (www.blu-ray.com).

 

Lesk wants you to know the digital formats because it’s an important part of archiving it online.  It’s about knowing *why* something was preserved in that manner and *how* it was saved. 

 

Lesk, Michael. 2004. Understanding digital libraries. Boston: Elsevier.

http://www.blu-ray.com/faq/ accessed 9/28/08

 

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Should Library patrons pay for extra database services?

Posted by Katey Lee on September 22, 2008

 

I read Buczynski’s article “Collection 2.0” from The Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, which covered several controversial points, namely that libraries were becoming obsolete because they failed to compete on the digital frontier.  According to Buczynski, libraries should fix this by partnering with Amazon or other online booksellers to offer the book for sale in the library catalog, if the patron should so choose to buy it rather than borrow it.  He also recommends that patrons should be allowed to pay-per-article for databases the library cannot wholesale subscribe to. 

 

“As a society, we’ve moved from textual communication to multimedia communication, whether in print publications, presentations, or online spaces. As a result, people are looking for images, graphics, sound, and video files, the very things library collections are weak in. Libraries increasingly don’t have what folks seek.” (91)

 

“The decline in reference service transactions reported by ARL (Association for Research Libraries, 2006) demonstrates that today’s library users are accustomed to self-service. They don’t want to go through gatekeepers with limited contact hours. They want it now. While in the past the discovery process and material retrieval process were relatively separate endeavors, conducted sequentially, today’s searchers execute the tasks concurrently.”  (93)

 

In order to move the library forward, Buczynski proposes drastic changes to the very core of library philosophy: free access.  And some people see the benefits of paying to get special service.  However, I don’t like the commercialization of the library.  People get that enough elsewhere.

 

It seems like Buczynski has a poor outlook on society and especially the web 2.0 mentality of demand at any hour.  True, if the public can’t access something from the library they’ll take their business elsewhere, so the library needs to do something to keep their patrons.  However, there have to be better ways than turning library websites into Amazon.com.

 

Reference:

Buczynski, James A. 2008. Looking for collection 2.0. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 20: 90-100.

 

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3 Digital Collections

Posted by Katey Lee on September 2, 2008

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on digital collections, and a lot of people have claimed things like Youtube and iTunes.  It made me wonder what I should offer up, because I use a lot of things I consider digital collections every day.  Someone noted Blogger.com as a digital collection of blogs… I would argue that it’s more of a social network than a digital collection, however.  Lolcats would be a digital collection… of cat macros.  While amusing, they don’t have much in the way of information.

Lee in “What is a Collection?” says that getting information about how users view and use collections is important to creating collections people *want* to use.  A practical way to get that information is to let the users give input to how the site is run and what features they would like to have implemented.  Plus, the collection has to be on a subject the users want to know more about or are invested in. 

One digital collection where the users supply the content is Fanfiction.net.  It is a massive collection of fanfiction from an extreme variety of fandoms.  Since fanfiction is writing, fanfiction.net is like the mecca for everyone wanting to read on subjects from various animes, television shows, comics, movies, or select books.  I read from several fandoms, and was first introduced to fanfiction on fanfiction.net.

A scholarly digital collection can be found through LORA: Books-In-Print.  It has a large database of books, with reviews, summaries, and lots of information about the publisher, formats, and authors.  I found it because of a different class had me looking there for book reviews.  I’ve used it for at least three other classes since.

The final digital collection is theoi.com.  It was recommended to me as part of a Myth/Folklore class, and I love perusing it because it covers so many mythologies with classic quotations to describe each god/creature.  For instance, in the Manticore entry, it cites Ctesias’s description from Indica (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 72) and who translated the description: (trans. Freese) (Greek historian C4th B.C.).  I love the pictures and texts and the format is very easy to use and search.

Digital collections are an important part of an internet life.  While social networking abounds, people are forever looking up actors or movies on imdb.com, or finding recipes, or wikipedia-ing (a word that is following in the path of googling).  The internet is the place to go if you want to know something, and there are MANY websites and databases with further links and resources.

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