Archive for November, 2008

MLIS: The Final Term

I submitted my course selection today for my last term in Western’s MLIS program.

Naturally, the two classes that I would have liked to rank first and second are scheduled during the same timeslot. The course that I wanted to rank third is a distance course. Distance courses have limited enrollment and fill up quick, so I had to rank it first to make sure I get in.

The final selection looks like this (for a 5-course term, you pick 7):

  1. 9506 Special Topic: Managing Vendor Relations
  2. 9202 Subject Analysis and Thesaurus Construction
  3. 9315 Collection Development
  4. 9102 Professing the Popular: A Midbrow Introduction
  5. 9157 Information Entrepreneurship
  6. 9204 Special Topic: Enterprise Content Management
  7. 9153 Professional Communication

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The OLE Project Webcast

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” (Sir Barnett Cocks)

The above quote comes close to describing what I was thinking as I watched the OLE Project’s Webcast from November 20th, 2008.

Months of consultations, hundreds of thousand of dollars spent ferrying people here, there, and everywhere…all to produce a design document. That’s a poor ROI. Only after July 2009 will they even begin to think about developing a new ILS, by which time:

  1. Evergreen and Koha will have evolved and improved; the OLE Project will still be months away from the rubber meeting the road.
  2. Evergreen and/or Koha may very well adopt any ideas the OLE Project outlines in their final “Open Library Management System” document before OLE can get started on actual development work.

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Evergreen 1.4 RC2

Evergreen 1.4, release candidate 2 was released yesterday. Be sure to grab the new 1.0.1 release of OpenSRF when building it.

With this release comes support for internationalization (i18n), so a call for translations has been put out. For those more comfortable with spoken languages than programming languages, this is a great way to contribute to the project.

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Today’s Speech from the Throne (PDF) included one line about copyright:

Our Government will proceed with legislation to modernize Canada’s copyright laws and ensure stronger protection for intellectual property.

One year ago, the same government included a similar line in their Speech from the Throne and the result was Bill-61 (which thankfully died on the order paper when this fall’s election was called). Despite the blowback they received this past spring and summer about that bill, I doubt the next incarnation will be much better.

Hopefully the new Industry Minister is a bit more clueful than the last and takes feedback from Canadians more seriously.

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After successfully importing our ~141 000 Innovative bib records into Evergreen two weeks ago, I finally got around to beating our ~300 000 Unicorn bib records into an importable state. They are now in our test Evergreen system. Working without a unique catalogue key and with too many duplicate TCNs (in 001 fields), my temporary solution was to whip up a simple Perl script that takes the MARCXML file and:

  1. Generates a unique ID for each record and puts it in a 002 field.
  2. Takes that unique ID and appends it to the existing TCN in the 001 field.

Perhaps that’s not the best solution, but at least it gave me the uniqueness that the default Unicorn export couldn’t. The entire process also allowed us a chance to clean up minor problems with a handful of records that had gone unnoticed for a while.

Now it’s onward and upward. I had a chance to sit down with cataloguers from our library and I’ve now got my hands on documentation that explains our libraries’ locations codes. With that information handy, I’m close to getting our the two import_holdings scripts functioning. Good times.

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Judge Miriam Patel gave a talk about copyright earlier this week, as reported on Wired.

“It was not surprising that the notion of free music caught on,” Patel said at Fordham. “What is surprising is how the industry seemed to be caught so short. While it was fumbling the new ways to distribute digital music at a profit in the new age, savvy innovators were moving full speed ahead. Sadly, it is the artists and composers who have been the most neglected in this matter.”

But legislation is not the answer, she has concluded. “Our copyright laws have become a patchwork of amendments that are adopted as emergencies arise” and as lobbyists representing various interests push legislation. Simply put, the system is too complex and doesn’t properly address music’s present — let alone its future.

I’m not too convinced that her proposed solution will fly (in fact, it sounds like it would be a huge fiasco), but her characterization of current copyright law as “a patchwork of amendments that are adopted as emergencies arise” is a familiar complaint.

I just finished Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide, which emphasizes (repeatedly) the importance of CCH vs Law Society of Upper Canada as a landmark case in Canadian copyright law. What was interesting about the case was that the Supreme Court examined the extent of Fair Dealing in Canada’s Copyright Act, which had previously been considered a “patchwork” of exceptions for users, but which the judges articulated in the ruling as “users’ rights” (which is closer to the “blanket” concept of Fair Use in U.S. copyright law).

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I’m currently making my way through Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide by Sam Trosow and Laura Murray. I’ve been reading about non-rival consumption, moral rights, economic rights, and all sorts of other legalese goodness, at a level that even I can understand (I tried a practice LSAT for “fun” once – turned out it wasn’t very fun at all).

It’s great timing, then, to come across a lengthy post by Rob Styles about the legal issues involved with OCLC’s policy change. He hits the right points, mentions the right precedents, and reminds us that copyright law doesn’t apply to data, only expression (so OCLC mentioning the GFDL as a comparison to their license for bibliographic records is a red herring). So go read the post – it’s time well spent.

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