MLibrary In the News Archives

The 21st Century Library: Books may gather dust in the stacks, but librarians are busier than ever

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Michigan Daily

When University Prof. Asa Gray, sailed for Europe in 1838, he was given $5,000 and was charged with the task of purchasing a collection of books to start the fledging University of Michigan’s library.

Gray purchased volumes on a wide array of topics, covering everything from classical literature to zoology, and he sent more than 3,000 books back to Ann Arbor.

Over the past century, the University Library grew to be one of the largest university library systems in the world, but until the Internet came to prominence over the past two decades, the general function of a library remained unchanged from Gray’s humble beginnings in the 1830s.

The Internet, however, has radically altered the way people interact with information and redefined the library’s place in academia and society. Thirty years ago, if a student needed to know the capital of Mozambique, she would have to go to the library and ask a reference librarian for assistance to find out that the capital is Maputo.

Now, all a student needs to do is run a Google search on her iPhone and within 30 seconds — and without leaving her bedroom — she could find out that Maputo has a population of 1.07 million and that the average temperature in July is 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

So while the instantaneous nature of the Internet has made The United States Postal Service insignificant (When was the last time you sent a letter?) and has fostered a 24-hour demand for news and information, it’d be easy to assume that libraries, at the University and elsewhere, would also be victims of the Internet’s accessibility and travel down the same path as Borders Inc., CDs and handwritten thank you notes.

But that’s not the case.


The Library on a Massive Scale

Thursday, October 6, 2011
Campus Technology

What do you get when you combine the collections from 60 major research institutions into a single, digitized library? A comprehensive collection, of course, but also a major headache for the people who have to collect, organize, preserve, and publish the information in a user-friendly manner for students, professors, and the general public.

That's the headache that John Wilkin, associate university librarian for the University of Michigan's Library Information Technology (LIT) department and executive director of HathiTrust at U-M. The latter is a comprehensive digital archive comprising materials from likes the U-M, Arizona State University, Baylor University, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College, to name just a handful.


The Orphan Wars

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Laboratorium

Just when I thought that the Google Books case might be tailing off towards an anticlimactic, unresolved ending — bam! The Authors Guild today filed suit against the HathiTrust, the library partnership holding many of the scans received from Google. You have to say this for authors: they sure know how to time a plot twist for maximum dramatic impact. I’ll give a quick summary of the important facts about the lawsuit, and then a few thoughts about what it means.

Authors To Universities: Give Up Your Google Books

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In a surprise move, authors’ groups slammed their one-time university partners with a lawsuit demanding that the schools’ surrender digital collections and stop working with Google (NSDQ: GOOG). The lawsuit opens a new phase in the fight over digital libraries and comes the same week that Google’s controversial books settlement is expected to die in court.

Orphan Works Project to Scan Library Books for Online Database

Monday, September 12, 2011
Information Today

The University of Michigan Library and several other major academic libraries are partnering with the HathiTrust Digital Library to try and do what Google cannot: develop a searchable library of scanned books, including so-called “orphan works,” from the resources in the libraries’ existing print collections. This Orphan Works Project could result in digital access to millions of out-of-print books, but it also runs a risk of violating federal copyright laws.

Joining Michigan and the HathiTrust in the Orphan Works Project are the libraries at Cornell, Duke, Emory, Johns Hopkins, and the Universities of Florida, Wisconsin, and California. Each of the libraries will identify and then scan materials from their collections that are no longer in print and for which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located. These materials have taken on the name “orphan works” because they remain copyrighted under U.S. law, but have no identifiable copyright owner to contact for permission to digitize, reprint, or otherwise use. Consequently, they sit languishing on library shelves and are essentially lost to the digital revolution.

HathiTrust and Google Will Help Duke U. Press Digitize a Trove of Older Titles

Monday, September 12, 2011
Chronicle of Higher Education

Duke University Press has struck an agreement with HathiTrust and Google to make a large number of its backlist titles freely available through the HathiTrust digital repository. The press, like many others, hasn't had spare resources to digitize and archive all those books itself.

As many as a thousand titles could be eligible for the project, which the partners hope will be a model for other publishers who want to widen access to their material.


"A university press stands a pretty good chance of finding a good portion of its corpus online" already, says John Wilkin, HathiTrust's executive director. That's thanks in large part to the digitizing partnership with Google. The Duke press will get digitized files of the books it makes available through the arrangement.

Is Babar an Orphan?

Friday, September 9, 2011
Library Journal

The University of Michigan (UM) Library is currently researching whether digitized works it has stored in the HathiTrust digital repository are orphans—works that are in-copyright but for which rights holders cannot be found. (Several other university libraries, including those of the University of California, Duke, Emory, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins, joined the orphan works project recently.)

UM has posted an online list of the works it believes to be orphans so far. After 90 days, if no rights holders come forward, those works will be made fully accessible online to UM students and faculty. Many of the works on the list are obscure—a 1949 typographer’s desk manual, anyone?—but a few are quite familiar. Case in point: a 1933 English translation of French author Jean de Brunhoff’s The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant (1931).


Move By Universities Creates New Problem For Google Books Deal

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

As authors and publishers wait to learn the final fate of the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Books settlement, a group of universities has quietly launched a major initiative that could reshape the future of copyright law.

As part of its quest to digitize the world’s books, Google has scanned millions of titles. But it can’t make them available to the public until a judge gives his blessing to a troubled settlement the company has reached with authors and publishers. One of the sticking points has been what to do about books that are still in copyright but whose owners can’t be found. Now, the universities, which include Cornell, Duke and Michigan, have decided that they aren’t going to wait for the judge’s OK to make those e-books available. They have announced they will allow library users to have full access to the digital text of those so-called orphan works, which are estimated to number in the millions.

Duke to expand e-books

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Duke University is about to expand access to free electronic books to include thousands of titles that are not yet available from the world's most ambitious e-book project: the gargantuan online library compiled by Google Books.

This fall Duke will be among the nation's first institutions to offer free online access to books that are still protected by copyright and not in the public domain. Those books, published between 1923 and 1963, will be offered to the public because the owners of the copyrights can't be contacted - either the publishers went out of business or the authors are deceased.

The e-books are stored by HathiTrust, a digital partnership of some 60 universities and research institutions. Google Books digitized many of the copyrighted books in the HathiTrust database, but so far Google hasn't received legal clearance to offer public access to those titles.


To date, 17 campus libraries have signed on to participate in the project, said HathiTrust executive director John Wilkin, who is also IT director for the University of Michigan Library System.

HathiTrust holds more than 9.5 million digitized volumes, and as many as half could be copyrighted without surviving copyright owners. HathiTrust only in recent weeks began researching which titles lack copyright owners and could be offered online by Duke and the other universities.

University Press Launches Facebook Serials

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Publisher's Weekly

The University of Michigan Press is hoping to entice Facebook members into purchasing two new releases this summer by posting installments from each novel on the press’s Facebook page over the next eight weeks. Beginning today, and extending through the Labor Day weekend, the press will post one chapter each from A Spell on the Water by Marjorie Kowalski (May) and Faithful Unto Death by Becky Thacker (June).

University of Florida Libraries Joins HathiTrust and Orphan Works Project

Friday, July 15, 2011
Library Journal

University of Florida (UF) Libraries yesterday announced that it has become the latest academic library to join the HathiTrust digital repository—and the third library, after those of the University of Michigan (UM) and the University of Wisconsin (UW), to climb aboard UM's ambitious project to identify orphan works and make them available electronically.

UM first announced its orphan-works identification project in May and its intention to make full-text digital copies of those works available to the UM community last month. Orphan works are defined as in-copyright but out-of-print works for which the copyright holders cannot be identified. As out-of-print works, they can be relatively rare and hard to come by, so online electronic versions could vastly improve accessibility for scholars.

Last month, UM associate university librarian and HathiTrust executive director John Wilkin told LJ that other HathiTrust partners would be teaming up with UM to identify orphan works in a joint effort. "Since we often hold the same volumes, doing the work for one [institution] is doing the work for all," he said.

U. of Michigan Tests Murky Waters of Copyright Law by Offering Digital Access to Some ‘Orphan’ Books

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Chronicle of Higher Education

The University of Michigan has taken an unprecedented step into a murky area of copyright law in the name of making thousands of its library books available to campus users in digital form. At least one publishing official calls the new practice illegal, while others say it could help solve the thorny issue of so-called “orphan works,” books in copyright whose owners are unknown.

U. of Michigan Library Opens Up Orphan Works

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Inside Higher Ed

The University of Michigan Library will announce today that it will be allowing authorized library patrons to access all of its digitized "orphan works" in full. Students and guests will now be able to access online any texts they would have been able to find in the stacks, Michigan officials said in a press release. This is the latest step in Michigan's attempts to identify and unlock the orphans -- books whose copyright holders cannot be found or contacted -- in its collection. The university announced last month that it is also working to identify more orphans among the millions of volumes held by HathiTrust Digital Library, a Michigan-based aggregator of university library collections. Other institutions are preparing making their own orphans available to authorized students and researchers, officials said in Wednesday's press release.

University of Michigan to stop worrying about lawsuits, start releasing orphan works

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bobbyg sez, "The University of Michigan Library will be sharing digital copies of their orphan works, that is, copyrighted works which have no identifiable owner, with the University community. Paul Courant, the University Librarian, says that the project is integral to the mission of the library, and that the sharing of the orphan works is a 'fair use' of the material, stating that 'sharing these orphan works does no economic harm to any person or organization, while not doing so harms scholarship and learning...'"

UM Library To Share HathiTrust Orphan Works

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
CBS Detroit

The University of Michigan Library will share with the UM community digital copies of the orphan works owned by the UM Library. The UM digital copies also reside in the HathiTrust Digital Library.

University of Michigan Library leads campus debate on e-textbooks

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Library Connect

Library Connect interviews Bryan Skib, Associate University Librarian for Collections, and Helen Look, Collection Analyst, University of Michigan Library (MLibrary), Ann Arbor, Michigan. On March 18, MLibrary hosted a Library Connect event sponsored by Elsevier titled, “The future of e-textbooks: A symposium on the influence of e-textbooks on academic life.” To view the e-textbook symposium presentations, visit the Elsevier website at: