Disappearing microform titles (Dan Lester - 3 messages) Marcia Tuttle 10 Sep 2001 13:06 UTC

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 11:04:58 -0600
From: Dan Lester <dan@riverofdata.com>
Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Albert Henderson)

Friday, September 07, 2001, 8:50:58 AM, you wrote:

>> Someone has to assume the responsibility of archiving electronic
>> documents.  So far, not many are stepping up to do that.  Archiving
>> electronic documents is NOT harder, or less long term, than archiving
>> print or film documents.

>         Publishers' archives go to the libraries. No other
>         group has the resources, training, and social status
>         to archive important documents effectively.

I've not noticed that publishers' ELECTRONIC archives are going to the
libraries.  I am aware that at least a few libraries have set up their
own cooperative projects to capture digital copies of all of the
electronic articles they license from ejournals (meaning those from
publishers, not those from aggregators).  No, we've not participated
in that, though could be interested in participating in a cooperative

>         Archiving electronic documents is more difficult than
>         other formats, as Arms points out in DIGITAL LIBRARIES
>         (MIT Press. 2000).

I'll disagree that it is more difficult.  It IS different, and that is
a stumbling block to many in libraries and publishing.  We're familiar
with the pitfalls of archiving print journals, and thus tend to
minimize them.  We tend to maximize the problems of dealing with those
things with which we're unfamiliar.

>         Digital formats become obsolete
>         within a few years.

It is irrelevant that 5.25 inch floppies, for example, or 8 inch
floppies before them, are obsolete.  I still have digital copies of
many things that I had in those formats at that time.  And, I have
both ASCII and word processing files from that era, in electronic
format.  The ones that were in WP3.1 have been converted to Word2000,
but I also have original copies and ASCII copies.  They're stored in
several locations, in both magnetic and optical formats.  They're as
good as they were in 1980 and 1985.

Yes, I'll copy them to another format or type of storage when the time

>         Magnetic media simply fail.

Sure.  And, libraries burn down.  Print volumes fall apart, are
mutilated by users, and are stolen.  Things happen in this imperfect
world.  However, I can store much more data in much less space, and
have more copies of it digitally than I can reasonably have in hard
copy.  If my briefcase with a zipdisk gets stolen, I still have copies
in magnetic form on hard disk at home and work, and a CDROM copy at
home.  Plus, the files are stored on a web server in Michigan.  Could
all of the copies be lost at the same time?  Not likely, short of the
big comet hitting us or a nuclear holocaust.  Of course in either of
those case the loss of my files isn't likely to matter to me or anyone

>         The
>         popular compression formats (JPG, GIF) capture only
>         a fraction of the information in the original art.

For important images the knowledgeable archivist stores them in an
uncompressed format.  TIFF files are a reasonable alternative.  With
the cost of storage these days, saving large files isn't a big
problem.  TIFF files and others can also be compressed with tools that
will restore them to their original status with no loss.  As you're
probably aware, there are now scanners and other digital imaging
techniques that produce results that are indistinguishable from
photographic techniques.

>         If the library community cannot step up, much
>         of knowledge and culture after the year 2000
>         will be lost. The question is, as I see it, who
>         cares about these things anymore?

The library community can and should step up to do this archiving of
digital content.  However, it is much easier to sit around and whine
about it than it is to actually do something.  I know that many are
working in these directions and we should praise and assist them in
whatever ways possible instead of saying it can't be done.


Dan Lester, Data Wrangler  dan@RiverOfData.com
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA
www.riverofdata.com  www.gailndan.com  Stop Global Whining!

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 11:27:09 -0600
From: Dan Lester <dan@riverofdata.com>
Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Buddy Pennington)

Friday, September 07, 2001, 8:51:43 AM, you wrote:

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 19:37:37 -0500
> From: "MD_Buddy (Buddy Pennington)" <MD_Buddy@KCLIBRARY.ORG>
> Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Dan Lester, 2nd message)

> Thursday, September 06, 2001, 12:10:01 PM, you wrote:

>> It's nice for publishers to put their archives on the web, but I am sure
>> they won't have it accessible for free for long.  That is why they are
>> cancelling the film, because it doesn't pay.

> *Naturally.  They're in business.  In good financial times they can
> *afford to carry some losing operations for good will, PR, etc.  In
> *tough times they can't.

> That is why it is good to have something that you have control over instead
> of the publishers if your mission is to provide information to customers
> instead of making money.  Publishers and libraries have a conflict in
> missions that is a big deal with this sort of thing.

This is an ancient canard that needs to be killed.  Publishers and
libraries are not, and should not be, in conflict.  They need to make
a profit, and most of us want them to make a profit.  If they don't,
our retirement plans aren't going to be worth much and there won't be
anyone to publish the things that need to be published.  (NOTE: I'm in
NO way opposed to alternative, free methods of publishing. I think the
quality control can be handled. Again, someone needs to continue to
develop it.)

> You catalog all your websites in MARC?

No.  We don't catalog all of our pamphlets or government documents or
maps in MARC either. But there is no question that websites can be so
cataloged.  http://www.oclc.org/corc/ will tell more.

> It definitely is not as easy as a print serial.

Again, I'll disagree.  It isn't harder.  It is different.  The
principles are the same, whether you're cataloging a print serial, an
ejournal, or a website.  (or anything else, for that matter)

> And the locations of microfilm are fairly static while URL's
> and content of the websites is not.  The pace of change with the web is much
> faster than that of film collections and many libraries do not have the
> staff time to keep pace with those changes.

Ejournal websites are relatively static and generally well organized.
Most ejournal publishers seem to be committed to not causing problems
for their clients, and thus themselves, but continually rearranging
things.  But, yes, change happens.  In addition, there are a number of
inexpensive services that will help libraries to deal with those

> This is a big difference that I am seeing with academic vs. public.  Not
> only are the majority of e-journals academic in nature, academic library
> users seem to be embracing them (at least from the literature).  But public
> libraries are a bit different.  And this also does not matter for the tons
> of titles that are not available electronically anywhere.

Of course not all titles are yet available electronically.  However,
more are every day, and that change is accelerating.  Idaho public
library patrons have embraced the LiLI-D project, in which several
thousand titles are provided electronically to any citizen of the
state, via databases provided by a couple of aggregators.  Maybe not
exactly the same thing as a "pure ejournal", but when you live in
Salmon, Idaho, and the public library has 20 current titles, you're
thrilled to have access to several thousand added journals of all
types and all subjects.

>> My point is that it isn't film vs. web that is at stake, it is the
>> diminishing of formats fo retention.

> *It isn't diminishing formats, it is changing formats.  When we lost 8
> *tracks (yes, no great loss) it wasn't a diminishing of formats, it was
> *a changing of formats to cassettes, and subsequently to CDs.  Soon it
> *will be to something else.  But as long as it is DIGITAL the format
> *doesn't matter, as long as someone copies the old format to the new.

> It is diminishing formats.  We lost 8 tracks and cassettes because they did
> not provide anything that CDs provided.

Exactly my point.  The old formats were inadquate, though still better
than 45RPM records or wax cylinders.  The new ones are better.  I
suppose you could argue that the absence of 8 tracks has somehow
diminished things in this world, but I can only see that as a change.
Plus, there is still someone, somewhere, who has a working 8 track
player and is buying those cartridges that they sell at fleamarkets
for a nickel each.

> Right but most libraries can afford to digitize serials.

I assume that you mean "can't afford" in the sentence above.  That is
true.  However, there are many cooperative possibilities, and that
could include archiving the digital ones that already exist.  I'm NOT
proposing that we all go out and personally scan our serials
collections.  And, I don't think that you're proposing that we all go
out and personally film our serials collections, either.

> And as far as I
> know DMCA allows you to digitize materials but then they can only be made
> available from within your building.

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.  However, I don't think
that the building limitation is correct.  I believe you need to limit
access to your users, just as you do in licensing a database or
ejournal.  But even if there is such a limit, you probably require
your users to come into the library to use the microfilm, too.  Even
if you checked it out, not many would have a reader to use it.

> The result is that other parties are
> going to digitize and provide access (again leasing not selling) for a fee.

This is no different than other parties providing microfilm for a fee.
Just because some content is licensed these days rather than sold,
that does NOT mean that it must be, or always will be, thus. The
legalities of DMCA and other aspects of copyright are a moving target.
The business practices of leasing vs. selling are also a moving

> *Some libraries are doing their own archiving of the digital content
> *they buy/lease/license/use.  The legalities are left as an exercise
> *for the student.

> Until they get sued.

I'm not suggesting that anyone do things that will get them sued.
Thus the statement that the legalities are left as an exercise for the
person (and his/her attorney) who plans to implement some of the
possibilities I've discussed.  Again, I'm NOT a lawyer.


Dan Lester, Data Wrangler  dan@RiverOfData.com
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA
www.riverofdata.com  www.gailndan.com  Stop Global Whining!

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 11:35:01 -0600
From: Dan Lester <dan@riverofdata.com>
Subject: Re: Disappearing microform titles (Peter V. Picerno)

Friday, September 07, 2001, 10:43:03 AM, you wrote:

>         I don't think it's a matter of caring or not caring: but what
> library has the luxury of resources (financial, staff, and otherwise) to
> digitize, migrate, electronically store, and maintain an electronic back
> run of a journal? I think it's really a question of whether the library
> community can afford to "step up."

In the 1960s only a half dozen libraries had the resources to develop
their own automated library systems.  Chicago.  Stanford.  Columbia.
A few others.

However, a GROUP of libraries got together and started a little
project to work together.  They called it OCLC.  Similar things can
happen now, whether via OCLC or other cooperative ventures.  Libraries
are generally pretty good at cooperating.  They just need to DO so
instead of sitting around whining about what they can't afford to do.

>         The models we are dealing with here are very different. Compare,
> for example, the costs of binding and shelving a print journal, the costs
> of purchasing and maintaining a microform of a back run, and the cost of
> paying perpetual rent for access to a back run of a journal.

Once again, an assumption is being made here.  The assumption that
there is no way that the library can OWN the back run of the journal
in electronic format.  There are some who are happy to have you own
it. There are others that can be convinced, particularly if the
library community makes a stand on the issue.  We are the ones who
control the money that gets paid to scholarly journal publishers, and
to a lesser extent to the non-scholarly journal publishers.

> The first two
> examples of the model (print and microform) represent some financial
> outlay on the part of the library for binding and storage, but a
> one-time-only payment to the publisher, while the third example
> (e-versions) represents little outlay by the library
> (hardware/software/web access) but continual payment to the
> publisher/aggregator/vendor.

Once again, only true if we let it be true.

>         Which is more affordable for libraries, and which is more
> lucrative for publishers/vendors/aggregators??

It all depends.  Libraries buying econtent can be both cheaper for the
library and more lucrative for the publisher.  We just need to make it

AND, if there are always cases where renting/leasing is the right
choice, whether for econtent, cars, housing, or anything else. There
is no single right answer for all items that could be bought or leased
or for all owners/lessees.


Dan Lester, Data Wrangler  dan@RiverOfData.com
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA
www.riverofdata.com  www.gailndan.com  Stop Global Whining!