Farewell to the Printed Monograph

I read Farewell to the Printed Monograph (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/03/23/michigan) in Inside Higher Ed today with a fair bit of sadness. And a little skepticism. I do understand the economic reality that is prompting this announcement but I have a couple of concerns:

1. I haven’t met anyone yet who actually prefers to read an entire monograph on a computer screen, Kindles not withstanding. Sure, there are good reasons why a Kindle or other similar device is useful; like when traveling or reading in bed at night. And yes, electronic texts are useful for adaptive technology and also for full-text searching. But for regular cover to cover reading of a monograph, given the choice, most of our patrons have indicated they still prefer print.

2. I am concerned about the price ramifications of this announcement. Especially the following excerpt: “In terms of pricing, Sullivan said that Michigan planned to develop site licenses so that libraries could gain access to all of the university press books over the course of a year for a flat rate. While details aren’t firm, the idea is to be “so reasonable that maybe every public library could acquire it.”

Many small academic libraries will not be able to afford a site license for all the press  e-books over the course of a year. We have never been able to afford approval plans here and even the larger university libraries are cancelling their approval plans. Especially since this would require an annual fee. In essence, libraries would gain access to more monographs, many of which fall outside of their normal collecting policies, but would have to pay every year to maintain this access – all to get the particular monograph that was desired. This also implies that perpetual ownership will only be offered as an extra charge. Unless the option exists to purchase perpetual ownership of an individual title, smaller libraries will lose access to a large portion of scholarly monographs using this model.

Furthermore, the time and expense to small academic libraries in negotiating the many licensing options and facilitating access to ebooks offered on many different search platforms may prove to be a barrier. We have already gone through this process with electronic journals. First academic libraries purchased aggregator databases, then journal packages, and now individual ejournal titles.

I highly suggest that presses study what has worked and not worked for delivery of ejournals and adopt a standard pricing model and delivery platform for academic ebooks that makes it possible for all academic libraries, large or small, to participate.

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Creative Commons

The following link is to a very nicely done explanation of Creative Commons licensing. What is that? This is an important tool for higher education because it allows academics and others to control the copyright of their own works. Most importantly, it can allow the author/creator of a work to specifically allow certain kinds of use without the need to obtain permission. ELI7023.pdf (application/pdf Object)

While you’re at the site http://www.educause.edu/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutSeries/7495, check out some of the other “Seven Things You Should Know About”. This is a great series from EDUCAUSE to help you keep up with the latest technology.

Speaking of keeping up with the latest, I found this link on Steven Bell’s The Kept-Up Academic Librarian. I highly recommend it!

Magic Fulltext Access Cookie

In an oped piece for Inside Higher Ed, Alex Golub laments that he has lost access to full-text resources through his alma mater, the University of Chicago. He discusses how he used to view this access as a privilege that he enjoyed for having attended this elite school, especially given his current underprivileged position at a state university. I have encountered this situation before, so I thought it would be worthwhile to point out this article on my blog. Just as University of Chicago discovered, it is not usually legal for libraries at IHEs to provide their graduates with access to licensed content. I suppose this could possibly be negotiated in the licensing agreements with vendors, but would certainly increase the cost. Just one more reason why Alex and all the other academics out there should jump on the bandwagon and publish their research in open access journals! Here’s a link to the Directory of Open Access Journals listings for Anthropology.

Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education – Inside Higher Ed :: Old Boy Networked
My alma mater had finally gotten its act together, realized that I was no longer a graduate student there, and withheld from my Web browser its Magic Fulltext Access Cookie.

Citizendium – Academic Wikipedia!

Here’s a follow-up to an earlier post, (https://rhondagonzales.wordpress.com/2006/10/30/can-wikipedia-ever-make-the-grade-chronicle-of-higher-ed-discussion/). While some studies have shown that Wikipedia is similar in reliability to traditional encyclopedias including Britannica, many academics have still felt nervous about the fact that anyone can contribute to Wikipedia. While the content is usually accurate, it is often incomplete and, what’s of more concern, it changes so frequently that it is very difficult to rely on. Today, a new project that has been in the works is, for the first time, allowing the public at large to register. Read the announcement below. Think of it as Wikipedia with an Editor! If you are an academic with special knowledge to contribute, think about signing up today.

Citizendium
The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), a “citizens’ compendium of everything,” is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names. It has taken on a life of its own and will, perhaps, become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an “encyclopedia” until the project’s editors feel comfortable putting their reputations behind this description.

Preventing Plagiarism

No matter how hard a professor tries to prevent plagiarism, some enterprising students will find a way to cheat.

I would offer our faculty the following rules of thumb:

1. Structure the assignment so that the grade is based on demonstrating understanding of how the final product or correct answer was achieved rather than just the final product or correct answer itself.

2. Especially in the case of written assignments, require multiple drafts and bibliographies to track the student progress in preparation of turning in the final project.

3. Ask a librarian to come in and talk to your class on the ethics of information managment and copyright law.
4. Finally, if you suspect plagiarism, search google for unique phrases to see if the text has been copied from an online site. Contact the library reference desk for assistance with this process.

Clipped from: The Kept-Up Academic Librarian: Preventing Plagiarism Requires Extra Effort
September 26, 2006
Preventing Plagiarism Requires Extra Effort

Preventing plagiarism takes hard work. Cheat-proofing her classroom pushes this biology teacher’s workweek up to 80 hours some weeks. She scoured the Internet before realizing she needed to switch a lab experiment on fruit flies because the genetic codes were online. Her assignments show just how far teachers are going to fight an unprecedented boom in cheating that has been driven by the Internet and other technology. Read more at:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060917/NEWS/609170639/1006/SPORTS

Posted by steven bell on September 26, 2006

Google Books

People are talking about an article that appeared in the Washington Post yesterday in defence of Google Books. One of our librarians, Karen Pardue, sent it to me today. You can read the article on Washington Post Web site.(You may be asked to create a free account before you can access the article.)

The author Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, makes the case that many books published today are only printed in limited runs and that, in the future, many fairly mainstream resources may be hard to access. Because Google Books only provides keyword searching of and limited access to the content of these copyrighted materials, he argues that it should be viewed as a valuable access tool which will ultimately increase the public’s demand for printed resources.

Another way of thinking about this might be the trailers that film companies make available to increase the public’s desire to see the whole movie. In my opinion, the most important component to Google’s new service is the link they provide to “find this book in a library”. In my experience this option is not always as useful as one would hope. Case in point being a search I just ran as a test. I searched Google Books for “San Luis Valley”. I found a book called Minot, North Dakota; Oroville-Tonasket, Washington; and San Luis Valley Project, Colorado–water resource legislation : hearing before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, One Hundredth Congress, first session, on S. 641 … S. 649 … S. 1549 … August 5, 1987. When I clicked on “Find in a Library” I was taken to OCLC’s Worldcat database, which is great. But upon entering my zip code I was given only one holding for this book in Colorado. If I weren’t a librarian, I might not realize that this is a Government Document and that many regional and selective depositories (of which my library is one) probably also have this document, but haven’t cataloged it separately.

My point is that I think there is a lot of potential for access to previously inaccessible materials via Google Book. However, I would encourage Google to continue to develop ties with local libraries that lead readers from the Google search page to the more specific sources of information.

Google Away!